Kelly Robinson, Ph.D.

Kelly Robinson

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Assistant Professor
Quantitative Fisheries Center



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  • Ph.D. - Fisheries Science, University of Georgia, 2011
  • M.S. - Marine Biology, College of Charleston, 2006
  • B.A. - Biology and Spanish, University of Virginia, 2001


I’m a fisheries ecologist and decision analyst with a background in marine fisheries. I grew up in coastal Virginia and attended the University of Virginia, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish (2001). I attended the College of Charleston for my M.S. work (2006), where I was a research assistant at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and studied the age, growth, and reproduction of the barrelfish (Hyperoglyphe perciformis). In addition to studying barrelfish, I spent my summers sampling the snapper-grouper complex of fishes off the southeastern coast of the US, and I had the opportunity to be a researcher on a NOAA Ocean Exploration Cruise and explore the ocean floor in a submersible. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, where, I studied the fish assemblages of estuarine waterfowl impoundments in coastal South Carolina. During my time at Georgia, I learned about structured decision making (SDM) and how it can be useful for making decisions about natural resources management. My postdoctoral position at Cornell University provided me the opportunity to continue learning about SDM, though it also led to a slightly landward turn in my research. At Cornell, I worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to make decisions for harvest management of white-tailed deer and turkeys. During my postdoc, I also was able to work with various other groups to aid in decision making processes, such as whether or not to exclude predators from endangered piping plover nests, and how best to make decisions for the various ecosystems that make up the San Francisco Bay estuary in the face of extreme uncertainty about climate change. My dual interests in SDM and fisheries ecology have found a home at the QFC here at Michigan State, where I plan to work with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, as well as other entities around the Great Lakes region, to perform research and apply the tools of decision analysis to make informed fishery management decisions.


My research interests broadly fall into two categories: fish ecology and conservation and the use of structured decision-making (SDM) as a means to integrate science with management.

Some of my current and recent research projects include:

  • Using structured decision making and adaptive management to aid decision makers in grass carp control in Lake Erie, salmonine stocking in Lake Michigan, and fish passage on the Boardman River
  • Understanding the effects of climate change on management of walleye in Lake Erie and effectiveness of barriers for sea lamprey control in the Great Lakes
  • Using otolith microchemistry to understand movements of naturalized Chinook salmon between lakes Huron and Michigan
  • Determining how ecosystem changes in the Great Lakes have affected populations of slimy and deepwater sculpin

Selected Publications:

K.F. Robinson, C.R. Bronte, D.B. Bunnell, P. Euclide, D. Hondorp, J. Janssen, M. Kornis, S. Riley, M. Vinson, S. Volkel, B. Weidel. Accepted. A synthesis of the biology and ecology of sculpin species in the Laurentian Great Lakes and implications for the adaptive capacity of the benthic ecosystem. Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture.

Robinson, K.F., M. DuFour, M. Jones, S. Herbst, T. Newcomb, J. Boase, T. Brenden, D. Chapman, J. Dettmers, J. Francis, T. Hartman, P. Kocovksy, B. Locke, C. Mayer, J. Tyson. In press. A collaborative response to invasive grass carp in Lake Erie through a structured decision making process. Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Lin, H., K.F. Robinson, L. Walter. 2020. Prioritizing road-stream crossing upgrades based on erosion risk and the impact on migratory species. River Research and Applications 36:371-382.

Lennox, R., G.A. Bravener, Lin, H., C.P. Madenjian, A.M. Muir, C.K. Remical, K.F. Robinson, A.M. Rous, M.J. Siefkes, M.P. Wilkie, S.J. Cooke. 2020. Potential changes and challenges to the biology and management of invasive sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus in the Laurentian Great Lakes due to climate change. Global Change Biology 26:1118-1137.

Lin, H., K.F. Robinson, M. Jones, L. Walter. 2019. Using structured decision making to overcome scale mismatch challenges in barrier removal for watershed restoration. Fisheries 44:545–550.

Robinson, K.F., A.K. Fuller, R.C. Stedman, W.F. Siemer, D.J. Decker. 2019. Integration of social and ecological science in natural resource decision making: challenges and opportunities. Environmental Management 63(5):565­–573.