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Donita Robinson, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and member of the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, was selected to help lead the Office of Graduate Education’s research and training missions.

Donita Robinson, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and member of the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, was named assistant dean for graduate education at the UNC School of Medicine after an internal search. The position is new and will help the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) continue to foster excellence in graduate research and training.

As assistant dean, Dr. Robinson will report to Jean Cook, PhD, associate dean for graduate education, and oversee the operations and mission of the OGE, which supports the development of future biomedical science leaders, promotes innovative recruitment and training, stimulates purposeful career development, remove barriers to success, and fosters a collaborative, inclusive research community. The OGE is under the directive of the Vice Dean for Research.

Dr. Robinson joined the UNC School of Medicine as a research associate in 2002 and was a research assistant professor from 2003 to 2009 before joining the faculty as a tenure-track assistant professor of psychiatry from 2009 to 2015. She was promoted to associate professor in 2015, and she has served as education and outreach director at the Bowles Center since 2010. Last year, she was named as faculty director of the Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) – the umbrella admissions and first-year graduate program for 14 PhD programs at the Office of Graduate Education.

“Dr. Robinson has made tremendous contributions in her role as co-PI of the UNC Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program for under-represented junior scientists (PREP), to recent improvements in the BBSP curriculum, and to the initiation of new programming and new funding in the Office of Graduate Education,” said Dr. Cook. “These accomplishments were highly valued by the assistant dean selection committee and the UNC Office of Research that administers and supports OGE.”

In Robinson’s Behavioral and Pharmacological Neurodynamics Lab, her research team explores the various brain circuits involved in drug- and food-motivated behavior, adolescent vulnerability to addiction, and consequences of drug exposure, in order to identify new pharmacological and behavioral treatment strategies.

In her new role as assistant dean for graduate education, Robinson will coordinate the activities of six OGE program directors and their faculty partners. These teams implement the following:

* The Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP);

* The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development, an NIH-funded program for supporting PhD students from underrepresented groups;

* The post-baccalaureate bridge program for prospective PhD students from underrepresented groups (NIH-funded UNC-PREP);

* The extensive suite of career exploration and professional development resources (TIBBS, and the affiliated internship program);

* Summer research internship program;

* Science outreach (e.g. DNA Day) and a collection of additional staff-led and student-led efforts such as faculty mentor training, student wellness, and student identity groups.

OGE also participates in original scholarship and research related to graduate training in biomedical sciences. For more information about the OGE, check its website.