Doctoral student in weed science
Robinson, who obtained a master's degree in agronomy at Purdue, is an Idaho native who grew up on his family's farm. Along with his wife, Michelle, Robinson is raising his two young children while pursuing a doctoral degree in weed science. He is a past president of Purdue Graduate Student Government and has advocated for graduate students with families.
What drew you to weed science and agronomy?
Growing up on the farm in Idaho really instilled in me a passion for agriculture at a young age. Early on, my summers working for professors in agriculture research showed me that I wanted to improve farming practices and to help provide food for our growing world.
After getting a bachelor's degree in agronomy at Brigham Young University in Utah, I chose to come to Purdue because it's well-known for its excellent agriculture research. I also wanted to come to the Midwest to learn how agriculture research is done here.
What is it like raising a family while pursuing a graduate degree?
It's probably the same as any job, because I've always thought of graduate school as a job. The biggest challenge can be giving my family my time. The rewards are many, including having my family support me while I pursue my educational goals. I also love coming home and playing with my kids. Having a family gives me motivation to work.
How have you worked to advocate for graduate students with families?
Last year, when I was the Graduate Student Government president, we rebid graduate students' health insurance. We achieved many improvements in that coverage and we also added child wellness coverage for all ages of students' children.
Also, last year I helped establish Child Wellness Day, which provides checkups, shots and education for graduate students with children. It's held in Purdue Village, making it accessible, and it's especially beneficial to families who are uninsured or underinsured. At the same time, since we work with the School of Nursing to hold this event, it gives nursing students an opportunity to put into practice the skills they're learning in the classroom.
How do you hope your graduate studies will affect your career?
After I finish my Ph.D. this semester, I'll start a position as a faculty member at North Dakota State University, where I'll be an extension agronomist in potatoes. My education at Purdue has given me opportunities to learn and grow as a person, leader and researcher. I've also had some really great mentors in my degree programs here and in the Graduate School when I served in Graduate Student Government.