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A.J. Robison appointed director of MSU's Neuroscience Program

Dr. AJ Robison headshot
"My dad always said to me I should find something that I like to do and get paid to do it," Robison said. "It's certainly what I do now. I couldn't ask for a better job." Credit: Harley Seeley

Associate professor in the Department of Physiology A.J. Robison has been appointed as the new director of Michigan State University’s Neuroscience Program.  He replaces Jim Galligan who is stepping down from the position after 11 years.

“Jim has been a terrific director of the Neuroscience Program,” Robison said. “I’m excited to help the program continue to grow and improve on areas where I see a lot of potential.”

Some of those potentials include the growth of its online graduate certificates program and supporting and expanding diversity among its students, faculty, and staff.

“We want to have opportunities for everyone and have a program that is diverse and welcoming,” said Robison, adding that he plans to create more outreach programs and research opportunities to encourage students to apply to the neuroscience Ph.D. program. “We want to make people aware that Michigan State University is the destination for neuroscience education and research.”

Another important goal Robison has will be to help support and enable faculty and students to achieve individual success.

“This position is affording me more resources to help enable faculty to be the best mentors possible for our grad students,” Robison said. “I want all of us to be doing better than what we are now.” 

Dr. AJ Robison pictured with his wife, Dr. Michelle Mazei-Robison
Before coming to MSU in 2013, Robison and his wife, Michelle Mazei-Robison, who is also an associate professor and the associate chairperson at MSU’s Department of Physiology, were postdoctoral researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Robison said Galligan was responsible for recruiting him and his wife to MSU. "It was never our intentions to end up at the same place but it just sort of happened that way," said the former college football player. "We work together because we're trained the same way and do the same science." Credit: Harley Seeley

Lawrence “Karl” Olson, chairperson of MSU’s Department of Physiology, said that Robison’s leadership will help the Neuroscience Program achieve its goals.

“Dr. Robison has a unique capacity to make people excited to work together,” Olson said. “This characteristic has made him a highly sought-after collaborator and team member, which is ideal for improving and expanding the Neuroscience program.”

Galligan agrees, adding that despite managing a research operation along with this new role, Robison is more than capable of balancing the two.

“He has substantial experience managing a large research team which will certainly help him manage the Neuroscience Program,” Galligan said. “He is committed to improving the program.”

Looking ahead, Robison knows some of the challenges he’ll face but says he’s ready for it.

“Getting faculty to buy in and attend more seminars and be a part of the decision-making processes will be one of the most difficult parts of this job,” he said. “I plan to give the faculty incentives and opportunities to participate but at the same time allow them to run the program the way they want it to be. My job isn’t to make this program what I want it to be but instead to enable the faculty and students to have the Neuroscience Program that they want."

By: Tyler Lee

Banner image: Robison said the success of students and faculty will be most rewarding aspect as director of the Neuroscience Program. "Getting papers published in journals and getting grants will be a direct marker of success," he said. "But I also want to see people be happy and satisfied with the program. Seeing faculty grow their own programs and students get their Ph.D.s and move on to be successful elsewhere is just as important and rewarding." Credit: Harley Seeley