Joseph Phillips

Joe PhillipsHometown: 

  • Omaha, NE

High School:

  • Omaha Benson

Year in School:

  • Senior

Anticipated Graduation Date:

  • May 2014


  • Biological Sciences


  • Mathematics

Why did you choose Biological Sciences as a major?

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the diversity of life. The plant, animal, and microbial species that inhabit our planet are absolutely astounding, and I have a hard time imagining what could be better than spending a life exploring them.

What is your favorite class or activity related to biology?

Right now, I’d have to say that Predator Ecology and Ecological Statistics are my favorite biology classes.

What are your future plans?

I plan to pursue an academic career in ecology and evolutionary biology, with a focus on linking mathematical modeling and field biology.

What branch of biological sciences excites you most?

Ecology and evolutionary biology

Have you conducted any research?

Tell us about it. I have worked in the lab of Dr. Chad Brassil since my freshman year. In that time, I have worked on duckweed population growth in fluctuating environments and mathematical models of food web dynamics. Last summer, I did research on ant-aphid mutualisms at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

What student involvement/extracurricular activities are you involved with?

I play in the UNL tuba-euphonium ensemble 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Get involved in research as early as possible. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know anything yet—learning as you go is what it’s all about”

What are you most proud of?

Despite all of the demands of my studies, I always keep things in perspective and make time for fun and relaxation.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as someone who loved learning and helping others learn.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?

It’s a tie between Madagascar and New Zealand. From what I’ve seen from photos and documentaries, both have amazing landscapes and are homes to a range of bizarre creatures found nowhere else in the world.

What is your favorite activity to do locally?

I like to swim and play racquetball/ tennis/ ping pong as often as time allows. I also play the piano.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

My friends, family, and dogs. They’re what make life worth living (beyond biology, of course!).

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

According to my parents, a marine biologist/ paleontologist/ zookeeper veterinarian. All at the same time.

What is one big goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?

I would like to become a great teacher, in one way or another. What’s the point of gaining knowledge if that knowledge isn’t shared with others?

What three adjectives best describe you?

  • Quirky
  • Passionate
  • Nice

October 2013
Nominated by Dr. Chad Brassil