professor Gene Robinson, an international leader in honey bee research, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine “for pioneering contributions to understanding the roles of genes in social behavior.” Robinson directs the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Election to the NAM “is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service,” the Academy writes. This honor follows Robinson’s receipt of the 2018 Wolf Prize in Agriculture earlier this year.
“It is unusual for a scientist to be recognized for contributions both to agriculture and medicine, but Robinson’s work with honey bees has real relevance to our understanding of the brain and behavior,” said Robert Jones, the chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus. “These two honors – in a single year – show how basic research can lead to all kinds of unexpected benefits. Thanks to Robinson’s work, we now have a better understanding of honey bee behavior and its genetic underpinnings – and we see compelling parallels to human brain plasticity and function.”
Robinson earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1986. He has been a faculty member at the U of I since 1989. He holds the Swanlund Chair in Entomology and Center for Advanced Study professorships in entomology and neuroscience.
With numerous awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005, Robinson is recognized as a pioneer in the use of genomics to study the brain and social behavior.
“Gene Robinson made an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of the honey bee, an understanding that has shaped the present and future of the world of beekeeping,” the Wolf Foundation wrote earlier this year. “His impressive discoveries have also influenced other disciplines, including the science of social behavior and mental disorders.”