In November 2015, Robert began a five year term as Vice President – Research (VPR) at Wilfrid Laurier University. In this role, his primary focus involves continuing to build Laurier’s research enterprise and promote its value and importance to its mission and vision. The scope and impact of research at Laurier has increased significantly in recent years, reflecting its central and growing role in the life of the University. Robert serves as Laurier’s research champion, driving a strategic, self-reflective research culture. He also has the overall responsibility for leadership in and administration of research and other scholarly activities at the campuses. In addition to being VPR, Robert also holds a faculty appointment at Laurier in the department of Geography and Environmental Studies.
In 2008, Robert became the 6th dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) at the University of Guelph, a position he held until joining Laurier. In his role as dean, he led the largest agriculture and food faculty in Canada. Through his leadership, OAC was ranked 1st in Canada, 5th in North America and 9th globally in agriculture and food research impact.
Robert was previously at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC), now Dalhousie University, for nine years, serving as a dean of research, department head, professor and Canada Research Chair. He also headed up the environmental management section of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and administered the Nova Scotia Environmental Farm Plan Program on behalf of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. He also previously served as an extension specialist through the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.
Robert earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in engineering from McGill University and a PhD in land resource science from the University of Guelph. He also holds an engineering diploma from NSAC.
A leading authority on environmental issues in Canada, his Canada Research Chair was in Environmental Resource Management. He has published well over 120 peer-reviewed articles and has supervised more than 50 graduate students throughout his career.
He is the recipient of many awards including the Premier's Award of Excellence and a number of other recognitions for research and service.