Dr. Gene E. Robinson

Director, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology; Swanlund Chair; Center for Advanced Study Professor of Entomology and Neuroscience


Gene E. Robinson is the Director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is also Swanlund Chair and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Entomology and Neuroscience. Research in Professor Robinson’s laboratory uses a social insect, the honey bee, to study the interplay between social experience, behavior, and brain function. The goal of his research is to discover how molecular mechanisms, particularly the activity of genes, within the honey bee brain enable it to direct the bee’s behavior in response to changes in the environment, the needs of the hive, and physiological state. Future work to better understand how the genome activity in the brain translates experience into behavior will help answer questions about how human social environments impact behavior and health, and how the deleterious effects of stressful environments can be ameliorated. Professor Robinson joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. He is the author or co-author of over 250 publications, including 26 published in Science or Nature. He has pioneered the application of genomics to the study of social behavior, led the effort to gain approval from the National Institutes of Health for sequencing the honey bee genome, and heads the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium. Professor Robinson serves on the National Institute of Mental Health Advisory Council and has past and current appointments on scientific advisory boards for companies with significant interests in genomics. He has taught 11 courses during his career at the University of Illinois, and has given guest lectures in many others; he has been included six times on the List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Their Students. Professor Robinson's honors include: University Scholar and member of the Center of Advanced Study at the University of Illinois; Burroughs Wellcome Innovation Award in Functional Genomics; Founders Memorial Award from the Entomological Society of America; Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship; Guggenheim Fellowship; NIH Pioneer Award; Fellow, Animal Behavior Society; Fellow, Entomological Society of America, Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences; and member of the US National Academy of Sciences.