Rachel L. Robson

Rachel L. Robson

PhD., Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Associate Dean, Basic Sciences; Professor, Microbiology and Immunology


Courses: Infection, Defense, Response; Evidence-Based Medicine; Behavioral Medicine

Originally trained as a journalist, Rachel Robson has worked to reform medical education since she first began her graduate studies in pathology. She observed much of her medical education to be heavy on memorization of acronyms and buzzwords, and light on clear communication and deeper understanding.

In her teaching now, Robson emphasizes conceptual frameworks that unite many separate elements in infectious disease pathology. Robson has helped to redesign Integrated Case Review sessions in her classes, where students actively work in teams to solve a patient case and connect that case to current medical research. She also encourages students to ask their own questions, and construct their own knowledge, through her mentoring of student-designed research papers and other projects. Saba University School of Medicine students have published papers and given conference presentations as a result of these collaborations. 

Robson also has done public presentations on medical science and volunteers with science programs for youth on Saba. 

A lover of the outdoors and all things in the natural world, Robson is an avid hiker and scuba diver. She loves living on Saba for the many opportunities it affords to be outside, and enjoys sharing her love of Saba’s pristine beauty with others. Through this passion, Robson has served as the faculty adviser for Saba University School of Medicine’s Wilderness Medicine Organization, and sometimes leads students on hikes over Saba’s many trails. 

Robson is an active member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Society for Microbiology, and the International Association of Medical Science Educators. 

  • Infectious disease
  • Microbiology
  • Immune response to pathogens
  • Medical entomology
  • Pedagogy
  • Science communication 

  • FUTURE in Biomedicine Senior Fellow, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 2013
  • Biology Scholars Writing Residency Fellow
  • American Society for Microbiology, 2010
  • Recipient of multiple teaching awards and assessment awards

  • B.J. Kildow, J.P. Conradie and R.L. Robson, “Nostrils of Healthy Volunteers Are Independent with respect to Staphylococcus aureus Carriage,” Journal of Clinical Microbiology, November 2012, 50(11): 3744-3746.  
  • R.L. Robson and V.E. Huckfeldt, “Ethical and Practical Similarities Between Pedagogical and Clinical Research,” Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, May 2012, 13(1): 28-31. 
  • R.L. Robson and S. Burns, “Gain in Student Understanding of the Role of Random Variation in Evolution Following Teaching Intervention Based on Luria-Delbruck Experiment,” Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, May 2011, 12(1): 3-7. 
  • R.L. Robson, S. Essengue, N.A. Reed, and R.T. Horvat, “Optochin resistance in S. pneumoniae induced by frozen storage in glycerol,” Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease, June 2007, 58(2): 185-90. 
  • R.L. Robson, N.A. Reed, and R.T. Horvat, “Differential activation of inflammatory pathways in A549 type II pneumocytes by Streptococcus pneumoniae strains with different adherence properties,” BioMed Central Infectious Diseases, 2006, 6:71.
Dr Robson has also mentored the following publications and presentations by Saba University School of Medicine students: 
  • A. Graziano and R. L. Robson. “A process map for evaluating suspected brown recluse bites,” poster at the annual American Association of Family Practice Physicians conference, 2019.  
  • MacKinnon, J.M. “A Systematic Review of Efficacy Outcomes Reported from Clinical Trials Evaluating Vaccine Candidates Targeting Plasmodium falciparum,” Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, August 15, 2016, 2:016. 
  • Krendel, M., Kliiger, J., Wijewardena, C. and Robson, R. L., “Hyperbaric Oxygen Inhibits P. aeruginosa Growth In Vitro,” presentation given at the 2016 Scientific Meeting of the Undersea Hyperbaric Medicine Society, Las Vegas, Nevada, June 9 – 11, 2016. 
  • A. A. Dave, “Clinical Utility and Alterations in Bacterial Flora in Fecal Microbiome Transplantation,” International Journal of Medical Students. December 2015, 3(3): 140-150. 

  • Pedagogy
  • Science communication

  • R.L. Robson, K. C. Smith, and K. Hulsof.  “COVID on Saba: Its past, present, and future,” public lecture sponsored by Saba Lions Club, November 17, 2020. 
  • R.L. Robson, Q. B. Behlers, T. J. Ferguson, S. Tendolkar, L. Boyken, J. McDanel, and D. A. Diekema, “Assessing the susceptibility of MRSA and MSSA isolates to two lytic phages of S. aureus,” poster #E-1187b (late-breaker), presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), September 12, 2013.  
  • R.L. Robson, “No Wrong Answers: How student questions transformed my research,” Senior Fellow address to FUTURE in Biomedicine program, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, August 2, 2013. 
  • M.T. Oetken, A.L. Iversen and R.L. Robson, “Medical Students' Perceptions of the Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance,” talk presented at Great Plains Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference, University of Iowa College of Public Health, April 28, 2012. 
  • J.P. Conradie and R.L. Robson, “Nostrils are Independent with respect to S. aureus Carriage,” poster presentation at the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting, May 2011, and the FUTURE in Biomedicine Program Research Symposium, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, July 2010. 
  • R.L. Robson, “Friending Facebook: Use of Facebook as a teaching and advising tool,” talk presented at the American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators, June 2011. 
  • R.L. Robson, “Class wikis encourage student collaboration,” talk presented at American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators, May 2008. 
  • R. L. Robson and Jaime Gassmann, “Militaristic metaphors in microbiology textbooks,” paper presented at Concepts of Infection conference, University of Bristol, UK, March 2007.


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