Who we are

Who we are

Meet Professor Rich Phillips and members of his research lab.

Dr. Richard P. Phillips

Rich Phillips crouches down in the forest and looks at the soil he holds in his hand.

Director of Research, IU Research and Teaching Preserve
Pronouns: he/him/his

Department of Biology
Biology Building 247
1001 E. Third St.
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405 USA

(812) 856-0593

Email RichDownload his CV

I was born in Boston, and graduated from the University of Vermont with a BA in Environmental Studies. After college, I landed a series of highly-rewarding teaching jobs: building hiking trails with at-risk youth, developing science and math lesson plans for special-needs students, and teaching first generation college-bound students through the Upward Bound Program. While I loved these experiences, I found myself longing to do science. So I enrolled in a master's program at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and conducted research on how aluminum toxicity (owing to acid rain) impacts sugar maple health. Eventually, I enrolled in a Ph.D. Program at Cornell where my dissertation focused on how trees enhance nutrient availability via the activities of their roots. After Cornell, I worked as a postdoc at Duke, investigating how trees exposed to CO2 enrichment physiologically adjust to take up soil nutrients and sustain productivity.

Mentorship is a critical component of a successful science career. As a mentor, I strive to make myself available and accessible, and I try to create a lab environment/culture where creativity is encouraged, excellence is expected, and successes are celebrated. My mentoring philosophy is to provide mentees with (or help them find) all the tools and skills needed to conduct independent research and launch their own successful research programs. I try to lead by example by being enthusiastic, risk-taking, and high-achieving in my scientific endeavors and respectful and supportive in my professional interactions.

I welcome inquiries from motivated students interested in how regional and global environmental changes influence carbon and nutrient cycling in ecosystems. I strongly encourage you to read through a few recent lab publications. If you’re interested in the “big-picture” ideas described in the first few paragraphs of each paper’s introduction, our lab is likely to be a good fit for you. Our lab is a collaborative, highly interactive and dynamic group, with broad interests in community/ecosystem ecology and soil biogeochemistry. Incoming Ph.D. students are encouraged to develop their own research projects. Although not a prerequisite, prospective students with interests in fieldwork and familiarity with soils or plant tissue research are encouraged to apply.