Robin Michael Crewe was born on 18 February 1946 in Johannesburg and spent the early part of his childhood on a farm near Steelpoort in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. He matriculated in 1963 at Kearsney College in Natal and then proceeded to the then Natal University in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa before proceeding to the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, U.S.A. for his Ph.D.
In 1968 he obtained a B.Sc. (Agric) degree majoring in Chemistry and Biochemistry and in 1969 completed an M.Sc. (Agric) cum laude. After obtaining his Ph.D. (with dinstinction), he returned to South Africa in 1971 as a lecturer in the Department of Entomology at the then University of Natal.
In 1976 Prof Crewe moved to the University of the Witwatersrand as senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology and was promoted ad hominem to Professor of Zoology in 1984 and became the Head of the Department for the first time in 1985. In 1986 he was made Deputy-Dean of the Faculty of Science, served as chairperson of the School of Biology and became Dean of the Faculty in 1994.
For a period of ten years (1986-1996) he was the Director of the Communication Biology Research Group of the University of the Witwatersrand where a major focus of the work of the group was the study of honeybee chemical communication systems.One of the main focuses of the research group was studying pheromonal communication in honeybees. This work is being continued by the Social Insect Research Group of the Department of Zoology and Entomology of the University of Pretoria.
At the end of his period of Deanship at Wits, he accepted the position of Dean of the Faculty of Biological and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria in 1997.
He joined the University of Pretoria in 1997 as Dean of the Faculty of Biological and Agricultural Sciences and served as Dean from 1997-2003. He has extensive experience in University administration and has had the opportunity to be the Dean of two of the largest, and strongly research orientated Faculties of Natural Sciences and Agriculture in South Africa at the University of Pretoria in 1997 – a position he held until being appointed as Vice-Principal.
He was recently the acting Senior Vice-Principal of the University of Pretoria and from 2003 – 2013 the Vice-Principal at the same university. He retired from the position of Vice-Principal of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the University of Pretoria at the end of June 2013 to return to work on honeybee research and direct the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at UP.
Under the role of Vice-Principal, Prof Crewe was responsible for the Faculties of Engineering, Built Environment & Information Technology (EBIT), Natural & Agricultural Sciences, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), all post-graduate studies and research at the university, the international offices of the university, library services and the university’s Research Support Office. Meanwhile, as the Relationship Manager for the Southern Education and Research Alliance (SERA), Prof Crewe represented the University of Pretoria in managing the day-to-day operations of the Alliance and reporting progress to the university’s Council.
Prof Robin Crewe is Professor of Entomology and the Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship and a member of the Social Insects Research Group (SIRG) in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria. Prof Crewe has been a director of INSiAVA (Pty) Ltd since its inception in 2006 and was appointed Chairman of the Board in October 2009.
He has been active in beekeeping circles in Gauteng province, having served for a period on the committee of the Southern Transvaal Beekeepers Association and also serving as Chairperson of the Association. He was made a Fellow of the Southerns Beekeepers Association of South Africa in 1999 in recognition for his contribution to honeybee research. He has served on the SABIE Honeybee Research Co-ordinating Committee and on the Capensis Working Group set up by the South African National Dept of Agriculture.
His research interests are in Behavioural ecology, social behaviour, chemical ecology, social organization in honey bees. His research activities have taken him to the Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht, the Netherlands; Université Paris Sud at Orsay, France; the Technical University of Berlin, Germany; Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenburg and the University of Bremen, Germany where he has been active in research on honeybees.
Prof Crewe has been active in the development of professional registration of natural scientists and the promotion of a number of learned scientific societies, including the presidency of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa. He has brought this strength to his Relationship Manager role in SERA, and throughout his tenure has been dedicated to building and reinforcing the relationship between the CSIR and UP to create world-class, world-scale education, research and technology transfer infrastructure and competence for South Africa.
He is the past President of the Academy of Science of South Africa, was elected the President of the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) during the 6th General Assembly of NASAC held in Cape Town in 2010. He took over from Professor Mohamed Hassan who laid a solid foundation for African science academies to work together through this network.
Prof Crewe, a NRF-rated scientist, has served on a number of boards, has been actively involved with organizations engaged in research, and has served on an advisory committee for the National Department of Agriculture. He has made significant contributions to professional societies.
He is the chair of the National Research Foundation Board, Fellow of the Academy of Science of the Developing World (TWAS), Fellow of the African Academy of Science, Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of Londonand Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa. His professional recognition includes receiving the gold medal of the Zoological Society of South Africa and being an honorary member of APIMONDIA, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations. The French Government granted him the Ordre National du Mérite with the rank of Chevalier in 2006.
Most recently, Prof Crewe was the recipient of the prestigious Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award for 2012. He is the thirteenth recipient of the Award since its inception and the first from the University of Pretoria. The Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award is granted to scholars of the highest calibre who are engaged in cutting-edge, internationally significant work that has particular application to the advancement of knowledge, teaching, research and development in South Africa. The award will enable Prof Crewe to produce a monograph on the life history of the honeybee Apis mellifera in collaboration with Prof Robin Moritz of the University of Halle-Wittenberg.
Prof Crewe has published more than 100 articles in refereed journals, 15 articles in journals for beekeepers, 3 book chapters and has made numerous contributions at scientific conferences. His current research is focused on chemical communication and social organization in honeybees and ants, particularly with respect to worker reproductive regulation.
He is married to Mary Crewe and they have one son.