Distinguished research scientist continues to support Quinnipiac community

November 09, 2023

Robyn Gershon smiling for a headshot in a blue blazer.

Robyn Gershon ’76, MHS ’81, has made her mark on universities across the country — and especially within the Bobcat community.

After being trained as a microbiologist at Quinnipiac, Gershon worked her way up from a general med tech to the director of biological safety at Yale University. Her passion for public health research was sparked by many unanswered questions regarding biological safety.

“I realized then that I wanted to do applied research to help front-line workers,” said Gershon.

She was inspired to improve safe work practices for employers and employees in healthcare and her research has impacted countless institutions and hospitals around the U.S. During her successful career, Gershon has conducted academic research, earned grant funding and now teaches as a clinical professor at New York University.

“It is a labor of love to work in research sciences in the U.S.,” said Gershon. “We scientists are essentially running small businesses. When I first started out in the early 1990s, there were not as many women in research in my field as there are now. I had to maneuver through some misogyny and sexism as did other women in male-dominated fields. I kept my head down and let my work speak for itself and I was very fortunate in that my work was always highly relevant and applied and therefore fundable."

After decades in the field, Gershon can now add another accolade to her list by earning the Alumni Leadership Award.

“I was very proud and very moved to earn this award,” said Gershon. “There have been a lot of very accomplished alumni, so I know it is a great honor.”

The contributions that she has made to public health relate to populations. Many people in health fields want to make a difference, some with one patient at a time and some within groups. Gershon has dedicated herself to studying community populations and high-risk work groups.

Her education at Quinnipiac had a direct hand in her career. Interning at Yale New Haven Hospital as a student opened up many doors for her. Getting promoted from an intern to the biological safety director inspired her to earn a doctorate in public health and that education led her to the role she has now as a research scientist.

“My first husband died from cancer when I was very young,” said Gershon. “I was still working at Yale as the biological safety director. He was very proud of my work and he always encouraged me. He was at both of my graduations and felt very strongly that I received a good education at Quinnipiac. I started the scholarship fund in his memory. He would have liked that. The fund keeps me connected to the school even though I am not in New Haven any longer."

She maintains her connection with Quinnipiac by continuing to embrace her time as a Bobcat and encourages students to do the same.

“The classroom knowledge and lab skills I was taught at Quinnipiac were easily transferable to real-world positions,” said Gershon. “I would advise any student in the health field to soak up the knowledge and make sure your methodical skill sets are sharp. Don’t cut corners in the labs.”

While currently a professor at NYU, she has influenced students at Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and UC Berkley using the skills she first learned as a Bobcat to inspire the next generation of researchers and scientists. Gershon’s influence is a dominant force in our community and always will be.

“If you find yourself doing work that you love, then work is a joy and not a burden, so I think it is important to find work that you are truly passionate about,” Gershon said.

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