Dr. Alison Robertson is a faculty member in the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of South Alabama (USA) and Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Robertson is the Graduate coordinator for a Masters Program in Environmental Toxicology at USA, and is the director of a large trans-ocean International partnership in ciguatera research and education, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Robertson is also a lead investigator in metabolomics and biomarker discovery in the Oceans and Human Health: Greater Caribbean Center for Ciguatera Research, led by Florida Gulf Coast University and co-funded by the National Institutes of Health and NSF.
Dr. Robertson has been fascinated by organisms that produce toxins and venoms for >20 years, working in a variety of different ecosystems all over the world including the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Some highlights included the Northeast and Northwest Coast of Australia, NE and NW coast of North-America, Hawaii, Guam, Indonesia, the Florida Keys, Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guatemala, Antigua, Belize, and many other Caribbean nations.
Robertson’s research focuses on understanding the biological role and environmental drivers of natural marine toxins in marine microalgae, and the mechanisms by which they exert their effects in other marine organisms. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop methods and tools to better predict, manage, and prevent the impacts of benthic and pelagic harmful algal blooms on population, ecosystem, and community health.
Additionally, her research characterizes the spatial, temporal, and foodweb dynamics of benthic and pelagic harmful algal blooms and how marine organisms and people might adapt and respond at a molecular, physiological, and behavioral level to low level environmental exposure to the natural toxins they produce. Over the past decade, Robertson’s major focus has been on unravelling the complexity of ciguatera poisoning, which is one of the most prevalent seafood borne illnesses globally and affects coastal communities in the tropics and subtropics, and well as more temperate zones that rely on fishes from these warmer regions.
Alison’s research is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Alabama Restore Program, and Alabama Center of Excellence.
Presentation: Wednesday, October 5th