Crewe Robin

Crewe Robin was elected as an AAS Fellow in 2012. As a fellow, Crewe Robin contributes to the development of the Academy’s strategic direction through participation in AAS activities and governance structures. . This gears the Academys vision of transforming african lives through science.

South Africa
Year elected

Prof. Robin Crewe obtained his Bachelors and Masters Degrees at the University of Natal and doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in the USA for a study of ant alarm pheromones. He returned to the University of Natal as a lecturer of Entomology. He later moved to the University of the Witwatersrand where he established the Communication Biology Research Group (CBRG) and was its Director for a decade. He was also appointed, successively, as head of the department of Zoology, deputy-dean of the Faculty of Science and then Dean of the Faculty of Science. He then moved to the University of Pretoria as the Dean of the Faculty of Biological and Agricultural Sciences and established the Social Insects Research Group (SIRG) within the Department of  Zoology and Entomology. He also served as Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and is now the Acting Senior Vice-principal of the University and interim chair of the National Research Foundation of South Africa. Prof. Crewe’s research activities fall into two major areas (1) The exploration of the diversity of ponerine ant social organization, which has resulted in the publication of a number of the studies on P. berthoudi and Steblognathus. Both studies provided significant insights into both facultative polygyny (P. berthoudi) and showed that establishing dominance hierarchies has significant endocrinological effects that are associated with ovary activation.  (2) The complexity of the relationships between queens, between queens and workers, and amongst workers in honeybees. In queen-less colonies, workers have been shown to undertake pheromonal contests that result in the establishment of dominant individuals with activated ovaries who monopolize reproduction. This results in forms of social organisation and social parasitism that were not previously thought to exist within honeybee colonies. The conventional wisdom was that queens regulated worker reproduction and that at best workers could reproduce in queen-less colonies. These findings have significant implications for commercial apiculture and the maintenance of honeybee biodiversity.