Back in 1997, then-FAMU President Frederick S. Humphries lured Robinson away from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was a research scientist and group leader. Humphries appointed him serve as director of the Environmental Sciences Institute and asked to lead the process of starting B.S. and Ph.D. programs in that field.
Robinson and his team had the B.S. program up-and-running in 1998. They got the Ph.D. program off the ground in 1999.