Profiles of Hispanics at EPA: Grace Robiou
Grace Robiou, Branch Chief,
Office of Water
Question: Where were you born?
Grace Robiou: I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Question: Where did you go to college? What was your major?
Grace Robiou: I have a master’s degree in public health and epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Tufts University. Very few people know I also have a bachelor’s degree in music from the New England Conservatory, where I studied classical piano and music theory.
Question: What brought you to EPA?
Grace Robiou: As an undergraduate, I studied environmental science. While in college, it became very clear to me that I wanted to work on environmental protection issues. I was fortunate to join EPA, working in the pesticides office. Soon after, I realized that I wanted to work on pressing water issues because I felt I could have a greater impact.
Question: What kind of work do you do at EPA?
Grace Robiou: I lead the branch responsible for managing the national programs that prevent pollution to our marine and coastal environments. More specifically, I manage the programs on ocean dumping, marine debris, ocean acidification, vessel discharges, coastal wetlands, coastal resilience to climate change, and coral reef protection. The scope of the work is both domestic and international, as the branch is responsible for implementing international treaties and agreements pertaining to pollution prevention and control in international ocean waters.
Question: What message would you like to send young Latinos who are considering going to college?
Grace Robiou: I have two recommendations. First, study science and statistics. Take the “hard” courses, such as chemistry, biostatistics, and advanced biology classes early on. Go for a bachelor of science, not a bachelor of arts. It is very important to have a solid foundation in scientific principles to be able to make a real contribution in this career track these days.
Second, I would suggest that you approach your education holistically. Do field work, participate in voluntary activities that protect the environment, read about the issues from different perspectives, and get a good sense of the multi-faceted nature of environmental issues worldwide. This is a very rewarding field -- go for it!