Personal Biography of Dr. Alan S. Robinson
Dr. Alan S. Robinson obtained a PhD at the University of Bristol, UK on Drosophila population genetic studies related to the development of genetic control techniques for insect pests. He then spent one year as a postdoc in Summerland Research Station, BC, Canada working on radiation induced sterility in the codling moth Cydia pomonella. This work was part of a sterile insect technique (SIT) programme that is still ongoing and expanding in the Okanagan Valley in BC.
In 1972 he took up a position as a government scientist at the research institute ITAL, Wageningen, The Netherlands to develop genetic control techniques for the onion fly, Delia antiqua. This work also involved the implementation of an SIT field programme. This SIT project is still running and has in fact been taken over by private industry. Following successful developments in the field of the SIT for Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata, he became heavily involved in the successful development of genetic sexing strains for this species. These strains are now in world-wide use in all Mediterranean fruit fly SIT programmes.
Anopheles mosquitoes remain a major problem for much of the world and in The Netherlands a project was put together to examine the possibility of developing genetic control techniques for Anopheles stephensi, a major vector of malaria on the Indian sub-continent. A consortium of institutes in the Netherlands, together with an institute in Pakistan, collaborated on this project which he led until 1987. A reorganisation of priorities at the Institute led to the premature closure of the project.
At about this time the possibility of adding modern biotechnological techniques to the development of insect control methods was beginning to take shape and he obtained a two-year Senior Research Fellowship from the EU to work at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Heraklion, Crete. Following the completion of the fellowship in 1989, he took up a tenured position to work on genetic transformation and molecular biology of the Mediterranean fruit fly.
In 1994 he was appointed the Head of the Entomology Unit at the FAOIAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory, Seibersdorf, Austria. The major work of the Unit concerns the development and transfer of new technology related to the implementation of SIT field programmes for several different insect pest species. These include various species of fruit flies and tsetse flies and in 2001 a new project was initiated to assess the feasibility of developing the SIT for an important vector of malaria in Africa, Anopheles arabiensis.