Alison Small graduated as a veterinarian from the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1993 and spent 12 years working in mixed, mainly livestock practice. During this time she worked as an On-Plant Vet in a number of abattoirs, under contract to the UK Meat Hygiene Service, and holds the UK Animal Welfare Officer certificate. She was awarded a PhD from the University of Bristol, UK, in May 2007.
Since January 2006, she has been working for CSIRO, first at Food Science Australia, QLD as a Research Scientist and Meat Industry Adviser, and, since July 2010, at the CSIRO McMaster Laboratory in Armidale, NSW. Current research areas include lamb survival, pain mitigation for livestock; animal behaviour and humane slaughter.