Marine Life

Welcome to Michael Robinson's Lab at Barry University

I have two main foci for my research: animal behavior and the science of teaching science.

Animal Behavior

At some point in their lives, all organisms interact with other organisms whether from the same or different species. The outcomes of these interactions determine the success of individuals and species. I study these interactions by looking at communication and cooperation.

Animals communicate, whether purposely or unintentionally, when they transfer information to other animals. The recipients then decide what courses to take based on the content and reliability of that information. Very often, these interactions will facilitate or hinder cooperation between the animals.

My research focuses on understanding the evolutionary and ecological influences on communication and the social interactions that may result, principally in marine fishes.

In this video from Jamaica a male bicolor damselfish (Stegastes partitus) is trying to convince a female to mate with him (i.e., he's courting her!). He is communicating his quality as a father through the behavior called dipping. The female is in the plastic bottle, and the male's nest is in the PVC tube.

Teaching Research

I am also very much interested in improving the teaching of science. Science education is a vital aspect of our industrial and technology-driven society, yet many university students and graduates are largely ignorant of science. In addition, it is important that we develop knowledgeable scientists and physicians who are able to apply their knowledge to new situations.

I try address the need for thinking in my classes, but realize that science teaching is constrained by the time available. It is difficult (but far from impossible) to teach what most biologists see as sufficient content while also teaching skills of logic.

My other focus of research is to develop and test ways to teach science efficiently and meaningfully at the university-level.

Michael P. Robinson
Department of Biology
Barry University
Miami Shores FL 33161 USA
305-899-4930; fax: 305-899-3225

My office hours for Spring 2012 are:
Monday 9-10 and 1-3; Wednesday 1-2