Jonathan Phillips

jdp's picture
  • Professor of Earth Surface Systems
  • Geography
877 Patterson Office Tower
(859) 257-6950
  • Other Affiliations:
Research Interests:

I am a geoscientist and physical geographer specializing in fluvial and soil geomorphology, pedology, and Earth system science. I am currently in phased retirement, and fall semester, 2020 will be my last teaching for, and getting paid by, the University of Kentucky. 


Aren’t you a little young to be retiring?

Yes, in the sense that I will be 63 at the time I fully hang it up. But UK allows you to retire will full benefits when you have passed age 60 with at least 15 years at the university. I chose to retire early so that I can enjoy my retirement while I still have some miles on me, so to speak. 

Are you giving up research? 

No. While I am avoiding involvement in any new research commitments, I am completing a couple of existing ones. Also, I recently signed a contact to do a book on landscape evolution, which will combine theories of geomorphological landscape evolution, soil formation, and ecosystem development. It will tie together—and hopefully complete—a number of ideas I’ve been working on over the years. 

I’ve already found during this phased retirement period how liberating it is to be able to focus research and writing toward what interests me (and avoid what doesn’t) without the constraints of project deadlines, contract administration, or non-academic duties of the job.  I can publish anywhere I want without worrying about impact factors or prestige—or not publish. I can put aside a project if I get bored with it. To some extent this is what it should be like while still holding a full time faculty position, but unfortunately it hasn’t been so for years (for me or, as far as I can tell, anybody else). 

Will you miss teaching?


But I will not miss administrative chores, filling out forms, going to meetings, revising curriculum for the Nth time, or continuing down the sad, hard road to commodification and corporatization of university education. 

How will you fill your days?

The book will keep me busy for a little while. Most importantly, I’ll be able to spend more time with my grandchildren, Caroline and Andy! Otherwise, days are/will be spent in increased activity (kayaking, hiking, gym, aimless wandering through forests & swamps) and increased inactivity (sleeping, drinking, reading, fishing). 

Are you still available for all-expense-paid trips for fieldwork, presentations, and research consultations?

Yes. If they seem like fun. 






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