Philip moved to Missoula the day after graduating from high school and never left. He is committed to protecting, preserving, and restoring western ecosystems. Philip studied ecology at the University of Montana as an undergraduate. He received a fellowship from the Inland Northwest Research Alliance’s Subsurface Science Program to attend graduate school. In that program, he received training from professors all over the northwest in soil science and restoration. Philip earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology in 2006 for a dissertation on the relationship between mine waste contamination and ecosystem functioning in the Clark Fork River Valley upstream of Missoula. As a graduate student, Philip also published on the influence of management practices on forest soils, factors allowing for the spread of invasive weeds in grasslands, and nutrient flow between rivers and floodplain forests.
After graduate school Philip became an assistant professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana where he continued research on ecosystem processes. He also started a consulting company that sought to apply the best ecosystem research to restoration practice and to monitor restoration projects for the purpose of advancing our knowledge of ecosystem function. Philip’s work was supported by the philanthropy of the owner of a conservation property in the Swan Valley, who in 2009 purchased the Ranch and expanded their conservation goals. This brought about a unique opportunity for Philip; he left teaching to manage these conservation properties full time and now oversees the operations and management of more than 8,500 acres of conservation property in Western Montana.
Academia aside, Philip believes that the patient observation of nature is the most valuable tool a scientist and restoration practitioner can develop. So, in his hours off you will find him with his family fishing, hunting, hiking, or maybe in the river flipping rocks to see what’s underneath.
Feris, K. P., Ramsey, P.W., Frazar, C., Rillig, M.C., Gannon, J.E. & Holben, W.E. (2003). Structure and seasonal dynamics of hyporheic zone microbial communities in free-stone rivers of the western United States. Microbial Ecology 46, 200–215.