Robert was born and raised in Kenya and obtained his first degree in Chemistry from the University of Nairobi. He obtained his Ph.D. in Cambridge, and subsequently held a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge. He moved to the University of Nottingham in 2000 where he is now Professor of Materials Chemistry and a Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
Robert's research interests are in the overarching theme of porous materials discovery, including synthesis and use as adsorbents, catalysts and energy materials. He has pioneered several synthesis approaches to templated carbons and activated carbons and their use as gas (H2, methane and CO2) stores. A feature of his research is discovery of new materials with optimal properties for specific applications, but which are prepared via simpler, cheaper and sustainable routes. This includes silica-based and carbonaceous materials, and their use as adsorbents, catalysts, and as electrode materials. He was recipient of a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2017 and was awarded an OBE in 2022 for services to the chemical sciences.
Robert has been extensively involved in research capacity building initiatives in the Global South, and in outreach activities in underrepresented groups in higher education, and STEM in particular.