The official website of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council

Larry Robinson

Larry RobinsonOn May 6, 2010, Larry Robinson was confirmed by the United States Senate as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  He was sworn in on the campus of Florida A&M University on May 10th and went immediately to the Gulf of Mexico for engagement in the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. Prior to this appointment Robinson served as the Vice President for Research at Florida A&M University (FAMU). Since 2001, he served as Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Cooperative Science Center housed at FAMU.  He attended LeMoyne-Owen College in 1975, graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in chemistry from Memphis State University in 1979, and earned a Ph.D. degree in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984. Robinson served as a graduate research fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1983.  From 1997 to 2003 Robinson was the director of FAMU’s Environmental Sciences Institute where he led efforts to establish B.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in 1998 and 1999, respectively.  He was selected to serve as FAMU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2003 before returning to the faculty ranks in 2005.  In 2007 Robinson was called upon by the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees to serve as interim Chief Executive Officer for the University in 2007.  Also in 2007, he became the first African American to serve as Science Advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) where he served until 2009. In 2008 Robinson was selected to serve on the Oceans Research and Resources Advisory Panel (ORRAP) and as a founding member of the National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Science Technology Education Advisory Committee. Previously, Robinson served as a research scientist and group leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) during the period 1984 – 1997. His work at ORNL included detection and assessment of special nuclear materials and application of nuclear methods in non-proliferation, environmental science, forensic science and assessment of high purity materials. His research interests include environmental chemistry, the application of nuclear methods to detect trace elements in environmental matrices, and environmental policy and management. 

During the past few years Robinson has participated in on-site and off-site review activities for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and as chairperson of the Environmental Sciences Institute’s Program Review Committee at FAMU.  As Provost of Florida A&M University, Robinson established the Office of Assessment; and, working closely with the Board of Trustees and faculty, developed FAMU’s strategic plan in 2004. He served as Chairperson of FAMU’s University-Wide Committee on Tenure and Promotion from 1997 to 2003 and developed a mentoring program to assist faculty seeking tenure while serving as FAMU Provost in 2003.

Professionally Robinson has served as chair of the Council of Academic Vice Presidents for the State University System of Florida; chair of the Florida Board of Education Statewide Course Numbering System Faculty Committee on Environmental Studies; chair of the Biology and Medicine Division of the American Nuclear Society; charter member of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors; and treasurer and executive board member of the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. 

Robinson is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy; the National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Education Tiger Team; the International Advisory Board to Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR-STEM); the Leon County Research and Development Authority; the Leon County Water Resources Committee; and Florida A&M University’s campus coordinator for Florida Sea Grant.  He has served on numerous scientific advisory boards including the State of Florida Aquaculture Interagency Coordinating Committee; External Advisory Board of the Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Florida Atlantic University; the Florida Institute of Oceanography, University of South Florida;  Savannah State University’s Center for Marine, Environmental Science and Biotechnology Program;  Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation Environmental Management Site Specific Advisory Board; and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Off-site Consequence Analysis Technical Advisory Group for RCRA Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities.  He served for four years on the National Research Council Committee on the Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem and on the National Research Council Committee on Mine Placement of Coal Combustion Waste.

Through volunteer efforts Robinson has been a staunch supporter of education at the post-secondary level. He has served as a  representative for Lockheed Martin Energy Systems in the National Urban League’s Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP);  member of the Roane St. Community College Minority Advisory Committee; liaison officer for U.S. Coast Guard Recruiting Initiative for the Twenty-First Century Scholarship Program (CGRIT) at FAMU; steering committee member and chair of the Department of Energy’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Consortium; and member and co-chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Historically Black College and University Consortium.  Robinson has enhanced minority serving institutions’ involvement in federally funded research by fostering multi-institutional collaboration in research and capacity building programs administered by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Science Foundation.

Robinson has served as major advisor to seven doctoral recipients in the nearly established Ph.D. program in Environmental Science at FAMU.  He has shown a career-long commitment to increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by involving K-12 students in science bowls, science fairs, science camps and recruiting students into formal STEM degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In this capacity Robinson has served as an instructor for Inroads Incorporated, St. Louis, Missouri; member of the Science Curriculum Evaluation Advisory Committee, Oak Ridge School System; coordinator of Oak Ridge National Laboratory/American Chemical Society Project SEED (Summer Educational Experience for the Disadvantaged); scientific judge and moderator  for the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl; science bowl team coach for the National Ocean Science Bowl and  the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers; charter member, Lockheed-Martin/Department of Energy’s K-25 Plant Adopt-A-School Committee; and science fair coach and judge for the  NAACP’s ACTSO competition.

In community service most notably Robinson served as President of the Oak Ridge Chapter of the NAACP; Chair Board of Directors, Oak Ridge Community Housing Development Corporation;  and Corporate Chair American Lung Association’s Asthma Walk Tallahassee, FL.

Larry is married to Sharon H. Robinson since 1984.  The couple has three daughters, Nicole, Arlin and Talia.