gene e. Robinson is the director of Carl R. woese institute for genomic biology. He holds a Swanlund Professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he has been since 1989. He also holds affiliate positions in the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology Program, and the Beckman Institute for Science and Technology. he received his doctorate. from cornell university and was an nsf postdoctoral fellow at ohio state university.
dr. robinson’s research group uses genomics and systems biology to study the mechanisms and evolution of social life, using the western honey bee, apis mellifera, as the primary model system along with other bee species. Research is integrative and involves perspectives from evolutionary biology, behavior, neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics. The objective is to explain the function and evolution of the behavioral mechanisms that integrate the activity of individuals in a society, the neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate behavior within the individual’s brain, and the genes that influence social behavior. the investigation focuses on the division of labor, aggression and the famous language of dance, a system of symbolic communication. current projects include: 1) nutritional regulation of brain gene expression and division of labor; 2) analysis of gene regulatory networks in solitary and social species to determine how brain reward systems change during social evolution; 3) brain metabolic plasticity and aggression; 4) automated monitoring of bee behavior with rfid tags and barcodes; and 5) learning and memory in relation to the division of labor. In social evolution, the sophistication of neural and behavioral mechanisms for the essentials of life (food, shelter, and reproduction) comes from an increased ability to communicate and synchronize behavior with peers. social insects, especially honey bees, are examples for the discovery of general principles of brain function, behavior, and social organization.
in addition to serving as a director of igb, dr. Robinson is also the Director of the Center for Bee Research, as well as Director of the Neuroscience Program from 2001 to 2011, IGB Research Theme Leader Neural and Behavioral Plasticity from 2004 to 2011, and IGB Acting Director from 2011 to 2012. He is the author or co-author of more than 275 publications, including 27 published in science or nature; He has been the recipient or co-recipient of more than $50 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, and private foundations; led the effort to obtain nih approval for honey bee genome sequencing; pioneered the application of genomics to the study of social behavior; and founded the honey bee genome sequencing consortium. dr. Robinson is a member of the Advisory Board of the National Institute of Mental Health and has past and current appointments to scientific advisory boards for academic organizations and companies with significant interests in genomics.
dr. Robinson’s honors include: University Scholar and Fellow, Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois; Burroughs Receives Functional Genomics Innovation Award; Entomological Society of America Founders Memorial Award; Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship; guggenheim fellowship; nih pioneer award; companion, animal behavior society; Fellow, Entomological Society of America; Fellow, American Academy of Arts & sciences; Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the United States National Academy of Medicine; and winner of the wolf award in agriculture.