Gene E. Robinson
CAS Professor of Entomology
Professor Robinson pioneered the application of genomics to the study of social behavior and has significantly advanced the understanding of the role of genes, hormones, and neurochemicals in the evolution of social behavior. He has made a wide range of fundamental advances in elucidating the endocrine, neural, and genetic regulation of behavior at the individual and colony levels in honey bees, leading the effort to gain approval from the National Institutes of Health for sequencing the honey bee genome and heading the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium.
Professor Robinson's laboratory is currently using genomic and molecular systems biology approaches to understand how genes influence social behavior. One focus is to discover how social evolution has sculpted the brain's reward systems. The circuits in the brain that mediate our perception or reward couple pleasure with the essentials of life: food and reproduction. Robinson's laboratory is studying in molecular terms how the reward system has evolved to also motivate altruistic behavior. These analyses are performed on a carefully selected set of closely related species of bees, some with altruistic behavior, like the honey bee, and some that lead more solitary lifestyles.
He currently serves as director of the Institute for Genomic Biology; director of the Illinois Bee Research Facility; and professor of entomology with affiliate appointments in the Departments of Cell & Developmental Biology, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Animal Biology, Political Sciences, and in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. He is the author or coauthor of more than 250 publications and has been honored as a University Scholar, G. William Arends Professor of Integrative Biology, Fulbright Fellow, Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and Entomological Society of America and NIH Pioneer Award winner, and Guggenheim Fellow. Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences; Swanlund Endowed Chair.