Allister chairs the Executive Committee of SU2P .He was also the PI of the RCUK Science Bridges Award that initiated SU2P. His research interests are in solid state lasers, nonlinear optics, biophotonics and laser spectroscopy. His association with Stanford University goes back to 1977.
He is the founder of the Institute of Photonics which celebrated its 20th Anniversary in November 2015. He founded Microlase Optical Systems Ltd which became Coherent Scotland Ltd. While Deputy Principal at Strathclyde he championed the case for the Technology and Innovation Centre which accommodates Fraunhofer Research UK Ltd and the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics alongside other specialist centres.
Allister founded the Centre for Biophotonics. The Centre fosters world-class interdisciplinary research between physicists and biomedical scientists in the area of advanced optical imaging. Allister was involved in the very first demonstration of two-photon microscopy using all solid state lasers. This is now a very widely adopted technique and commercially very significant.
Allister has had a long-standing interest in solid state lasers and their applications. He has published extensively in areas such as diode pumped solid state lasers, nonlinear optical devices including optical parametric oscillators.. His contributions range from ultrashort pulses to ultra-stable lasers.