Alison Robertson, Ph.D.

Senior Marine Scientist I, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Associate Professor of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama


Alison Robertson is a Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Associate Professor in Marine Sciences and Graduate Coordinator for the Environmental Toxicology program in the School of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of South Alabama.

She completed her doctorate at James Cook University in Australia and completed her postdoctoral training at the Institute for Marine Biosciences, National Research Council of Canada, and the NOAA NMFS Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington.

Before coming back to academia Robertson also led research on emerging chemical hazards and seafood safety with the U.S., Food and Drug Administration.

Alison works on harmful algal blooms (pelagic, benthic, and cyanobacterial) and seeks to understand the biological role and effects of algal secondary metabolites and toxins at multiple levels of organization (bio-molecular, cellular, organismal, population, community, and ecosystem).

Research Highlights:

  • Understanding the chemical ecology and mechanisms of toxin production in pelagic and benthic phytoplankton
  • Biomolecular mechanisms and impacts of phycotoxin exposure in marine biota and humans
  • Evaluating ecological risk of cyanotoxins, ciguatoxins, and other phycotoxins on local, regional, and global scales

Recently Funded and Active Grants

Who We Are

Molly Miller, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, CiguaPIRE Education and Outreach Coordinator Focus area: Chemical Ecology of Algal Secondary Metabolites

Andy I. Selwood

Visiting Scholar: Research Specialist
Home Institution: Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand
Focus Area: Chemical Diversity of Benthic Algal Toxins in Marine Biota

Alex Elizabeth (Liz) Murphy, BSc.

Biotechnologist IV
Focus area: Prevalence, Distribution, and Environmental Drivers of Natural Toxins in Fish


Clay Bennett, Ph.D. Student, Marine Sciences (Current)
B.S. 2008, Troy University
2008 - 2012, Fisheries Observer, NOAA
Dissertation: Toxicokinetics of Caribbean ciguatoxin in mid-trophic level fish.

Sean Collins, MS Student, Marine Sciences (Current)
B.S. Biology (2019), University of South Alabama
Thesis: Effects of Phycotoxins on Endocrine Nuclear Receptor Response in Gulf Killifish (Fundulus grandis)

Caleb M. Wilson, PhD Student, Marine Sciences (Current)
B.S. (2023), Idaho State University
Dissertation: Mechanisms of Ciguatoxin Uptake and Exposure in Marine Biota

Alexander Leynse, Ph.D. Candidate, Marine Sciences (Defended Fall 2023)
MS (2016), Florida Gulf Coast University
Dissertation: The Meta-metabolome of the epibenthic dinoflagellate Coolia

Jessica Gwinn, Ph.D. Graduate, Marine Sciences (Completed Summer 2023)
B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Texas A & M University
Dissertation: Linking the Metabolic and Ecological Fate of Caribbean Ciguatoxins in reef Herbivores

Interns and Undergraduate Trainees

Jensen Jones
B.S. (ongoing) Marine Sciences
Role: CiguaPIRE Trainee
Project: Impacts of Ciguatera Poisoning on Coastal Island Communities



  • Parsons, M.L., M.L. Richlen, T.B. Smith, D.M. Anderson, A.L. Abram, D.L. Erdner, and A. Robertson. CiguaMOD I: A conceptual model of ciguatoxin loading in the Greater Caribbean Region. Harmful Algae. Vol. 131. 102561.
  • Mudge, E.M., A. Robertson, S. Uhlig, P. McCarron, and C.O Miles. 3-Epimers of Caribbean ciguatoxins in fish and algae. Toxicon. Vol. 237. 107536.


  • Gwinn, J.K., A. Robertson, L. Ivanova, C.K. Faeste, F. Kryuchkov, and S. Uhlig. Identification and cross-species comparison of in vitro phase I brevetoxin (BTX-2) metabolites in northern Gulf of Mexico fish and human liver microsomes by UHPLC-HRMS(/MS). Toxicon: X. Vol. 19 100168.
  • Logan, J.M., Wozniak, A.S., Varela, J.L. et al. Pre-spawning habitat use of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) inferred from stable isotope analysis. Mar Biol. 170, 67.
  • Leynse AK, Mudge EM, Turner AD, Maskrey BH, Robertson A. Gambierone and Sodium Channel Specific Bioactivity Are Associated with the Extracellular Metabolite Pool of the Marine Dinoflagellate Coolia palmyrensis. Marine Drugs. 2023; 21(4):244.
  • Mudge, E.M., C.O. Miles, L. Ivanova, S. Uhlig, K.S. James, D.L. Erdner, C.K. Faeste, P. McCarron, and A. Robertson. Algal ciguatoxin identified as source of ciguatera poisoning in the Caribbean. Chemosphere. Vol. 330. 138659.
  • Mudge, E.M., N.I. Lewis, P. McCarron, C.O. Miles, S. Uhlig. f. Kryuchkov, J.K. Gwinn, and A. Robertson. Identification of Caribbean ciguatoxins from benthic dinoflagellates advances knowledge on toxin chemistry and analysis. Harmful Algae News. NO. 73/2023.


  • Mudge, E.M., A. Robertson, A.K. Leynse, P. McCarron, and C.O. Miles. Selective extraction of gambierone and related metabolites in Gambierdiscus silvae using m-aminophenylboronic acid–agarose gel and liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometric detection. Journal of Chromatography B, Vol. 1188. 123014. 1570-0232.
  • Kryuchkov, F., A. Robertson, E.M. Mudge, C.O. Miles, S.V. Gothem, and S. Uhlig. Reductive Amination for LC–MS Signal Enhancement and Confirmation of the Presence of Caribbean Ciguatoxin-1 in Fish. Toxins 2022, 14(6), 399;
  • Mudge, E.M., J. Meija, S. Uhlig, A. Robertson, P. McCarron, and C.O. Miles. Production and stability of Oxygen-18 labeled Caribbean ciguatoxins and gambierones. Toxicon 2022, 211(11-20).
  • Mudge, E.M.; Robertson, A.; McCarron, P.; Miles, C.O. Selective and Efficient Capture and Release of vic-Diol-Containing Pacific and Caribbean Ciguatoxins from Fish Extracts with a Boronate Affinity Polymer. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2022, 70, 12946-12952,
  • Kryuchkov, F.; Robertson, A.; Mudge, E.M.; Miles, C.O.; Van Gothem, S.; Uhlig, S. Reductive Amination for LC-MS Signal Enhancement and Confirmation of the Presence of Caribbean Ciguatoxin-1 in Fish. Toxins 2022, 14, 399,
  • Dahl, K.A.; Fields, A.; Robertson, A.; Portnoy, D.S.; Grieme, A.; Lockridge, G.; Patterson, W.F. Factors affecting DNA barcoding classification accuracy for piscine prey: An experimental assessment with invasive lionfish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 2022, 547, 151675,


  • Mudge, E.M., A. Robertson, A. Leynse, P. McCarron, and C.O. Miles. Selective Extraction of Gambierone and Related Metabolites in Gambierdiscus silvae using m-Aminophenylboronic Acid–Agarose Gel and Liquid Chromatography–High-Resolution Mass Spectrometric Detection Journal of Chromatography B 2021, 123014.
  • Gwinn, JK., S. Uhlig, L. Ivanova, C.K.Faest, F. Kryuchkov, A. Robertson. In Vitro Glucuronidation of Caribbean Ciguatoxins in Fish: First Report of Conjugative Ciguatoxin Metabolites. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 34 (8), 1910-1925.
  • Liefer, J.D.; M.L. Richlen, T.B. Smith, J.L. DeBose, Y. Xu, D.M. Anderson, A. Robertson. Asynchrony of Gambierdiscus spp. Abundance and Toxicity in the U.S. Virgin Islands: Implications for Monitoring and Management of Ciguatera. Toxins. 13, 413.
  • Hancock, TL., S.L. Blonder, A.A. Bury, R. A. Smolinski, M.L. Parsons, A. Robertson, H. Urakawa. Succession pattern and phylotype analysis of microphytobenthic communities in a simulated oil spill seagrass mesocosm experiment. Science of The Total Environment. 784, 47053.
  • Dahl, K.A., A. Fields, A. Robertson, D.S. Portnoy, A. Grieme, G. Lockridge, and W.F. Patterson. Factors affecting DNA barcoding classification accuracy for piscine prey: An experimental assessment with invasive lionfish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 547. p. 151675.
  • Bennett, C.T. and A. Robertson. Depuration kinetics and growth dilution of Caribbean CTX in the omnivore Lagodon rhomboides: Implications for trophic transfer and ciguatera risk. Toxins 2021, 13(11).774.


  • Kryuchkov, F., A. Robertson, C.O. Miles, E.M. Mudge, and S. Uhlig. LC–HRMS and Chemical Derivatization Strategies for the Structure Elucidation of Caribbean Ciguatoxins- Identification of C-CTX-3 and -4. Mar. Drugs. 18(4),182.
  • FAO-WHO 25 contributing authors listed alphabetically Robertson, A.. Report of the Expert Meeting on Ciguatera Poisoning. Rome, 19–23 November 2018. Rome, Italy. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 156pp.
  • Curran, M. C. and A. Robertson. Chemistry Made Easy, Teaching Students about the Link Between Marine Chemistry and Coral Reef Biodiversity. Current- The Journal of Marine Education. 34(2). 1-11.


  • Dorgan, K.M., R. Parker, R., W. Ballentine, S.K. Berke, E. Kiskaddon, K. Gadeken, E. Weldin, W.C. Clemo, T. Caffray, S. Budai, A. Robertson, and S. Bell. Sublethal effects of oil exposure on infaunal behavior, bioturbation, and sediment oxygen consumption. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 635(9-24).
  • Novoveska, L. and A. Robertson. Brevetoxin-Producing Spherical Cells Present in Karenia brevis Bloom, Evidence of Morphological Plasticity. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 7(2), 24.
  • Bennett, C.T., A. Robertson, and W.F. Patterson. First record of the non-indigenous Indo-Pacific damselfish, Neopomacentrus cyanomos (Bleeker, 1856) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. BioInvasions Records. 8 (1). 154–166.
  • Lefebvre, K.A., B.J. Yakes, E. Frame, P. Kendrick, S. Shum, N. Isoherranen, B.E. Ferriss, A. Robertson, A. Hendrix, D. J. Marcinek, and L. Grattan. Discovery of a Potential Human Serum Biomarker for Chronic Seafood Toxin Exposure Using an SPR Biosensor. Toxins. 11(5), 293.
  • Gwinn, J. K., A. Robertson and R. P. Kiene. Effect of Salinity on DMSP Production in Gambierdiscus belizeanus (Dinophyceae). Journal of Phycology. 55(6). 1401-1411.


  • Parsons, M. L., M. L. Richlen and A. Robertson. Harmful Algae: Gambierdiscus. Harmful Algal Blooms, A Compendium Desk Reference: 601-604.
  • Loeffler, C. R., A. Robertson, H. A. Flores Quintana, M. C. Silander, T. B. Smith and D. Olsen. Ciguatoxin prevalence in four commercial fish species along an oceanic exposure gradient in the US Virgin Islands. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 37(7). 1852-1863.