John Phillips - Class of 2009

I graduated from CMU in May with majors in Biology, Environmental Studies, and History. During my undergrad I worked in a research lab for four years, studying the phylogenetic relationships of Anolis lizards. My research took me to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. While at CMU I also competed intercollegiately on the Triathlon team, and competed at the US National Championships twice. I also became involved in the Volunteer community of Central Michigan, working on and leading extended service projects in Mississippi, Texas, and Florida.

Now I am a graduate research assistant at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, where I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Biological Science. I am currently working on a number of projects, but my thesis is currently directed toward the phylogeography of the Eurycea spelaea complex (a group of subterranean salamanders,endemic to the Ozark Plateau, whose eyes degenerate after metamorphosing into adults.) I also have received a small grant to work on the genetic diversity of the Georgia Blind Salamander (Haideotriton wallacei) and have other side projects working on the relationship between body size and substrate composition in Oklahoma Salamanders (Eurycea tynerensis), along with a pet project of mine examining the correlation between body size and gestation time in Boas as well as looking at biogeographical implications of a number of morphological and reproductive factors within the group.

John was a 2011 CMU nomination for a Rhodes Scholar. “John’s exceptional accomplishments and potential make him a very competitive candidate for this prestigious award,” said Phame Camarena, director of University Honors and the National Scholarship Program. “He is an outstanding example of the talented students attending CMU.”