Ronald C. Phillips

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Ronald Carl Phillips
Ronald C. Phillips.jpg
Professor Ron Phillips in 2005
Born (1932-06-04)4 June 1932
Carbondale, Illinois, USA
Died 1 November 2005(2005-11-01) (aged 73)
Nationality American
Alma mater
Occupation Marine botanist, SCUBA diver, underwater photographer, educator
Spouse(s) Sylvia E. Anderson (1954-1983)
Nataliya A. Milchakova (2003-2005)
Children 3 children and 1 stepson

Ronald Carl Phillips (1932–2005) was an American marine botanist[1] and educator in the United States, Netherlands and Ukraine. He specialized in seagrass biology, ecology, systematics, distribution and transplantation. Prof. Phillips was the first individual to combine scuba-diving with seagrass research and transplantation. He co-edited or co-authored four scientific books,[2][3][4][5] 20 book chapters, 20 technical reports[6][7] and 3 monographs,[8][9] over 70 reviewed papers, plus his autobiography which included the development of seagrass biology and restorative seagrass transplantation as important parts of the environmental sciences.[10]

Early years and education[edit]

Ron was born in 1932 to father Claude Phillips, a former geography teacher, and mother Cleo Belle (née Felts) in Carbondale, Illinois. They moved to Sheffield Avenue in Chicago with younger sister Pat in late 1933, then the family moved to Lombard, Illinois in 1938.

Ron took several biology courses from 10 years old at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. Ron graduated from York Community High School in 1950, and he graduated from Wheaton College (Illinois) in Biology in 1954. He worked with Chester S. Nielsen PhD on algal classification for the cryptogamic herbarium at the Field Museum in 1955.[11]

After completing his master's degree in Botany in 1956 he

at Florida State University,[12] he moved with his family to Seattle, Washington and taught general biology, vascular plant taxonomy and marine biology at Seattle Pacific College (changed to Seattle Pacific University in 1968). In addition to Phillips’s teaching career, he worked during the summers at Friday Harbor Laboratory, San Juan Islands near Seattle, Washington. He was granted a large National Science Foundation Fellowship in 1969 to complete his PhD thesis on Zostera in 1972.[13]

Seagrass career[edit]

From 1957 Phillips began scuba-diving as an integral part of his scientific field research into seagrasses. In 1959 he worked for Bob Ingle, the Director of the Florida State Board of Conservation Marine Lab, on projects involving the first recorded experimental seagrass transplants in order to restore habitats at dredged sites. In 1973, marine botanist and seagrass taxonomist Cornelius den Hartog[14] invited Prof. Phillips to join the first International Seagrass Workshop[15] in Leiden, Netherlands along with many international seagrass experts with whom he worked throughout his career.[16] His scientific travels took him to 35 countries (Netherlands, France, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and Taiwan, Philippines, United Kingdom, Israel and Egypt, the Soviet Union, Palau) and many places around South America and the Persian Gulf. His domestic travels included Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and every state[17] except Delaware and Vermont.

He was a key speaker in many international Symposiums, conferences and meetings, and he was involved in the creation of several Natural and Biosphere Reserves.[18]


Ron had many varied sports interests and played on school teams for golf, baseball, basketball and marksmanship during secondary school and at Wheaton College (Illinois). He was a motorcycle enthusiast and raced motorcycles until 1998. He began skydiving in the early 1990s. He won various marksmanship and skeet shooting competitions throughout his life. He took more than 5000 photographs around the world, including many underwater pictures.[19]

Personal life[edit]

He married Sylvia Anderson of Blue Island, Illinois in late 1954 and had one son and two daughters; they divorced in 1983. He later married seagrass research colleague Nataliya A. Milchakova PhD (Sevastopol) in early 2003. Prof. Phillips was a lifelong Christian and attended various evangelical churches throughout his career. He is buried in the Sevastopol cemetery in his adopted country, in the newer 5 km section of the city.[20]


  • Phipps-Bird Award. Best research paper of 1960 published in the Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Science, 1961.
  • Burlington Northern Foundation. Scholar of the Year Award. Seattle Pacific University, 1985.
  • US National Academy of Sciences. US-East European Exchange Program with the Soviet Union. Seagrass study, 1989.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ reefED: Marine Botanists. Accessed 16 April 2013
  2. ^ Phillips, R.C. and McRoy, C.P. [eds.] Handbook of Seagrass Biology: an ecosystem perspective. Garland STPM Press, 1980, New York, 353 p.[1]
  3. ^ Phillips, R.C. and Meñez, E.G. (1988) Seagrasses. Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C., 104 p.[2]
  4. ^ Phillips, R.C. and McRoy, C.P. [eds.] (1990) Seagrass research methods. UNESCO, Paris, 210 p.[3]
  5. ^ Kuo, J., Phillips, R.C., Walker, D.I. and Kirkman, H. [eds.] (1996) Seagrass Biology: Proceedings of an International Seagrass Biology Workshop. Rottnest Island, Western Australia, 25–29 January 1996, 385 Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C., 104 p.[4]
  6. ^ Phillips, R.C. (1960) Observations on the ecology and distribution of the Florida seagrasses. St. Petersburg, Florida State Board of Conservation, Marine Laboratory [5]
  7. ^ Dawes, C.J., Phillips, R.C., Morrison, G. (2004) Seagrass communities of the Gulf Coast of Florida : status and ecology, St. Petersburg, Fl. : Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute : Tampa Bay Estuary Program [6]
  8. ^ Phillips, R.C., Coastal Engineering Research Center (U.S.) (1980) Planting guidelines for seagrasses, Fort Belvoir, Va. : U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers, Coastal Engineering Research Center ; Springfield, Va. : National Technical Information Service [7]
  9. ^ Meñez, E.G., Phillips, R.C., Calumpong, H.C. (1983) Seagrasses from the Philippines, Washington : Smithsonian contributions to the marine sciences, no. 21, Smithsonian Institution Press [8]
  10. ^ Phillips, R.C. (2013) Travels with Seagrass: The Memoirs of Prof. Ronald C. Phillips. Compiled by Kathleen A. Parsons and Nataliya A. Milchakova, 204 p. and 40 colour plates [9][10]
  11. ^ Annual Report 1955, Chicago Natural History Museum (1956) Chicago Natural History Museum Press, p. 44-45.[11]
  12. ^ Phillips, R.C. (1956) The Cyanophyta of Aspalaga County, Florida (MSc Thesis). Florida State University. Tallahassee. 31 p.[12]
  13. ^ Phillips, R.C. (1972) The ecological life history of Zostera marina L. in Puget Sound, Washington (PhD thesis). Univ. of Washington, Seattle. 154 p.[13]
  14. ^ den Hartog, C. (1970) The sea-grasses of the world. North-Holland Publishing Company, Amsterdam-London, 281 p.[14]
  15. ^ McRoy, C.P., National Science Foundation (U.S.). Office for the International Decade of Ocean Exploration (1973) Seagrass ecosystems : research recommendations of the International Seagrass Workshop : the report of a workshop held under the auspices of the International Decade of Ocean Exploration, 22–26 October 1973 [15]
  16. ^ Green, E.P., Short, F.T. (2003) World Atlas of Seagrasses. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press [16]
  17. ^ Phillips, R.C.; Huffman, R.T.; Vincent, M.K.; Seattle Pacific College; Environmental Laboratory (U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station); Dredged Material Research Program (U.S.)(1978) Habitat development field investigations, Port St. Joe seagrass demonstration site, Port St. Joe, Florida : summary report. Vicksburg, Miss. : Waterways Experiment Station [17]
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