Dr. Larry Robinson Confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

May 7, 2010

Dr. Larry Robinson, confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Credit: FAMU)

The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Larry Robinson by unanimous consent Thursday to serve as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Robinson will help guide policy and program direction for NOAA’s conservation, protection and resource management priorities.

NOAA helps protect, restore, and manage the use of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes’ resources through an ecosystem-based approach to management.

 “Protecting valuable coastal ecosystems and marine life while promoting resilient coastal communities is critical to the economic well-being and health of the nation,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Dr. Robinson has broad, interdisciplinary scientific expertise in marine and coastal ecosystems and understands how they contribute to economic and societal health. His proven capability as a visionary leader and experience integrating many complex program objectives will advance NOAA’s efforts to ensure the health and vitality of coastal communities and the resources on which they depend.”

In his new position, Robinson will support and manage NOAA's coastal and marine programs, including marine sanctuaries for preserving areas of special national significance, fisheries management to sustain economic prosperity, and nautical charts for safe navigation. He will also support NOAA’s participation as a lead agency in President Obama’s Ocean Policy Task Force.

“Once he is sworn in next week, Dr. Robinson will go to the Gulf Coast, where he will help coordinate NOAA’s scientific resources throughout the region,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “With a background in coastal resource management and the environmental sciences, as well as his personal familiarity with the region’s ecosystems and communities, he will significantly further the federal government’s response to the spill’s effects.”

“Having spent so many years working on ocean and coastal ecosystem issues, I am excited to be joining NOAA at this dynamic and challenging time,” said Dr. Robinson. “As we confront climate change and other threats to our coastal communities, I look forward to helping develop and implement national ocean policy, and working with fishing communities and councils around the country to effectively manage our valuable fisheries. There is so much important work to be done that benefits the economy, the environment and our communities.”

About Dr. Larry Robinson

Dr. Larry Robinson was the vice president for research and a professor in the Environmental Sciences Institute at Florida A&M University (FAMU). Since 2001, he has served as director of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) headquartered at FAMU, which consists of a broad, multi-institutional consortium of predominantly minority-serving institutions. ECSC’s multifaceted program has made a significant contribution to the promotion of diversity in the scientific workforce — especially within NOAA — due, in large part, to Dr. Robinson’s outstanding leadership.

 Between 1984 and 1997, Dr. Robinson served as a research scientist and a group leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His work there included detection and assessment of special nuclear materials and application of nuclear methods in nonproliferation, environmental science, forensic science and the assessment of high purity materials. From 1997 to 2003, Dr. Robinson directed FAMU’s Environmental Sciences Institute where he led efforts to establish bachelor and doctoral degree programs. In 2007, he became the first African-American to serve as the science advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

Dr. Robinson graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Memphis State University in 1979, and earned a doctorate in nuclear chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.