Benjamin Philip works to show students how the study of biology can lead to the discovery of the many scientific truths of nature. For Philip, the answers to biological questions can be found in the many living organisms in the environment. “There are so many interesting things about our natural world,” he says. “Being able to use nature as the background and focus of what we study is central to the study of biology. There are so many natural processes and adaptations that I never have a lack of examples to use in class.”
Philip cites the words of early 20th century physiologist August Krogh, who said that “for a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice or a few such animals on which it can be most conveniently studied” as central to his teaching philosophy. Guided by that principle, Philip shows his students how nature provides the answers to their questions. “For any question about the natural world, there is an organism that has answered it already,” he says.
Therefore, Philip encourages students to examine what is known about other organisms to find answers to scientific questions. “It’s about using what we already understand to figure out what we don’t know,” he says. “What we can hope to understand about the world around us is based on the knowledge we already have.”
Rivier College provides a great teaching environment for Philip because of its community atmosphere. “Being at Rivier, I have the ability to mentor students in the classroom and in the lab,” he says. “This makes my role as a biology professor very enjoyable.” Philip teaches courses in Anatomy and Physiology (BIO105 and 106), Animal Behavior (BIO305), Animal Physiology (BIO301), and Seminar in Biology (BIO390). He also mentors seniors in their independent research as part of Rivier’s Problems in Biology (BIO426) course. “I really have a passion for science and the desire to pass along my enthusiasm for biology,” he says. “That’s what makes me want to teach.”