Robert J. Robbins is a biologist, an educator, a science administrator, a publisher, an information technologist, and an IT leader and manager who specializes in advancing biomedical knowledge and supporting education through the application of information technology. More About: RJR | OUR TEAM | OUR SERVICES | THIS WEBSITE
Robert J. Robbins
Robert Robbins has experience in biology, education, science administration, and information technology: At Michigan State, he taught biology to thousands of university students; at NSF and DOE he served as a program officer in two federal funding agencies; as Director of the Laboratory for Applied Research at Johns Hopkins, he played a key role in developing the information infrastructure of the human genome project; and at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center he served as the VP/CIO of a major research organization. In 1993, he developed a free website (www.esp.org) that is still used by tens of thousands of students and educators world wide. In 2001, he co-founded and currently leads an organization (www.briite.org) that facilitates communication and cooperation among IT professionals at academic biomedical research organizations. Currently, Robbins is involved in several biology projects, including the UCSD-hosted, NSF-funded Research Coordinating Network for the Genomic Standards Consortium project that is intended to facilitate the extension of genomic and metagenomic data standards into fields such as biodiversity and community ecology.
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Thomas Jefferson Dog
Tom is our go-to partner for just about everything that requires a hi-IQ canine with great person skills.
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Adelina Perdita Roux Robbins (Lina)
Lina is the newest member of our team. The energy and eagerness that she brings to every activity is stunning.
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Our Staff Meetings
We believe that staff meetings are not only integral to achieving team goals but also reflect team functioning. Whether they are conducted in real-time or asynchronously, in-person or by a remote conference, team meetings are important tools for managing team tasks and productivity and for establishing and maintaining positions in the staff dominance hierarchy. Effective team meetings allow for frank and open conversation that draws upon each member's knowledge, skills, perspectives, and personal assertiveness to solve problems and to support one another in achieving the team's collective goals.
We are committed to providing an atmosphere of Darwinian efficiency so that team members feel empowered to exchange their views in a frank, open, and sometimes challenging manner.
Continuous learning means keeping the "raw material pile" of your brain freshly stocked, allowing you to come up with more and better ideas and innovations (and to recognize really bad ideas). If you regularly have new ideas and solutions (and you avoid doing profoundly stupid things), you add value to your job, increasing your success.
Being able to learn from one's mistakes is a critical success factor for today's fast-changing world. For example, everyone knows how important it is to eat well, especially when under stress and intense time pressure.
So, to get help on eating well in the high-pressure work-place, we consult the interwebs and learn: For healthy meals in minutes, Ziploc® brand Zip'n Steam® Microwave Cooking Bags combine the taste and nutritional benefits of steam cooking with all the convenience of your microwave. Each bag has patented vents that allow food to be steamed under pressure so that it is cooked thoroughly and evenly for quick, healthy, delicious meals with no mess!
Except with fresh beets. Microwaving fresh beets in a steamer bag can make for a mess. A really big mess. Who knew? Not us. Probably not you. But we have definitely learned from that experience.
RJR Experience and Expertise
Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.
Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.
Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.
Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.
While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.
Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.
Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.
Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.
RJR Picks from Around the Web (updated 11 MAY 2018 )
Science Policy & Funding
Big Data & Informatics