Elizabeth Robinson Named One of Ten 2018 Science Policy Fellows

Elizabeth Robinson  
Degree: 2018, Ph.D., Doctorate in Philosophy, Oceanography and Coastal Sciences  
Hometown: Shreveport, LA
High School: Caddo Magnet  

photo of robinson doing field work

Elizabeth Robinson, recent graduate of LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment, or CC&E, was named a Gulf Research Program 2018 Science Policy Fellow by The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine shortly before graduation this August. She is one of 10 recipients honored with this distinction.

Science Policy Fellows gain first-hand experience in scientific policy by spending one year on the staff of a federal or state environmental, natural resources, oil and gas, or public health agency in the Gulf of Mexico region while being guided by a mentor. Robinson will be working for Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, or CPRA, in Baton Rouge, LA, in fulfillment of her fellowship.

Prior to her enrollment at LSU, Robinson interned at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, or LUMCON. There, she studied hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico under the tutelage of Nancy Rabalais, Professor and Shell Chair in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at CC&E. After working with Rabalais at LUMCON and becoming familiar with Rabalais’ reputation as a world-renowned expert on hypoxia and a well-known coastal ecologist, Robinson enrolled at LSU and chose Rabalais as her advisor.

Robinson’s dissertation focused on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on mollusk and crustacean populations, specifically blue crabs and periwinkle snails, and their behaviors and predator-prey interactions. And, she was previously recognized as a Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, or GoMRI, Scholar for her contributions to understanding the effects of the oil spill.

Robinson says the multifaceted education she received at CC&E will be especially helpful to her professional life and her upcoming fellowship with CPRA due to four core classes that she was required to take: biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, and geological oceanography.

“They were really useful in that, prior to coming here, I was focused on the biology side of things. So, CC&E helped me round out my education in those other areas,” Robinson said.

According to Robinson, this well-rounded understanding of the other factors that influence the environment will be helpful to her professional career. As an ecologist who is passionate about using proven science to influence best environmental practices, her fellowship at CPRA, coupled with her education from CC&E, will provide her an opportunity to immerse herself in the world of scientific policy and research.

“I want science to have a purpose,” she said. “I hope that through this fellowship, I’ll get a better view of what kind of research is needed to improve policy.”