Robert was born in Stirling, Scotland, in 1972 and grew up in Glasgow. He was educated at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, completing a BA in Government and Economics in 1993 and a PhD in Political Science in 1999. While at University he travelled extensively, including a year-long stay in the US and a brief spell in a Congressional office in Washington DC. He developed an interest in nature conservation in the Netherlands and participated in several conservation projects.
He is the Professor of Political Science at Monash University in Melbourne. Before moving to Melbourne and joining Monash in 2017, he worked at universities and research institutes in Europe. Robert was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Groningen from 1999 to 2003, a Lecturer in Public Policy at Utrecht University (also in the Netherlands) and at the same time a Policy Analyst for RAND Europe, the European division of the RAND Corporation, from 2003 to 2005. In 2005 he moved to Ireland, where he was Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor and Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. In 2013, Robert moved back to his hometown of Glasgow to become a Professor of Political Science at the University of Strathclyde. In addition to being an active researcher and educator, Robert has held significant leadership positions in these institutions, including Director of Graduate Studies at Trinity College Dublin and Head of School at the University of Strathclyde.
Robert has a range of research interests, both basic and applied, and has published widely. His research includes the study of democratic performance around the world. One of his ongoing projects is the largest international comparative study of promises made by political parties during election campaigns. He is passionate about multidisciplinary research, and recently established a research project on energy poverty in India with a group of social scientists and engineers in Australia and India. Robert also conducts applied research that supports businesses and policymakers involved in complex negotiations.
Robert and his wife Mariella recently celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary. They live in the Toorak area of town. They have fallen in love with Melbourne and Australia and plan to settle here. They both enjoy Melbourne’s vibrant cultural life, particularly its theatres and galleries. At the weekends they can sometimes be found hiking in the Victorian countryside.
As a new arrival to Melbourne, Robert looks forward to becoming involved in community projects that engage with and support the people of Melbourne, as well as with some of Rotary’s many international initiatives.