Allison Doupe grew up in Montréal, Canada, where her interest in models for speech learning arose in part because of her experience living in a place with two languages. She attended Université de Montréal and McGill for her B.Sc., and Harvard for her M.D. and a Ph.D. in neurobiology with Paul Patterson and Story Landis. After medical internship at Mass General Hospital and psychiatry residency at UCLA, she began investigating songbirds during postdoctoral training with Mark Konishi at Caltech. She assumed her independent position at UCSF in 1993, where she is now professor of psychiatry and physiology, and director of the UCSF Center for Integrative Neuroscience. She uses the songbird to study the function of neural circuits, especially basal ganglia circuitry, in learning and behavior. She received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and was recently elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.