Philip Yang

Why did you choose to study / research marine science?

Growing up on Lake Champlain in Upstate NY, I always loved being on the water. When I was 12, I read most of the Clive Cussler ‘Dirk Pitt’ collection. The underwater world gripped me with adventure then, and still does now. As I progressed with an interest in science at Villanova University (BS Biology ’21), I found studying, protecting, and teaching Earth’s ecosystems extremely rewarding. In the Changley Lab at Villanova, I learned about mangroves, wetlands, climate change, human-environment interactions, and many pressing environmental issues of our time. My desire to make a difference led me to a Fulbright U.S. Student research grant (2021-’22) to study fisheries sustainability with USAID Fish Right in the Philippines. This experience cemented my desire to continue with marine ecological research. I now find myself as my own ‘Dirk Pitt’ at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island starting a MS in Biological Oceanography.

What is your research project about?

I will be studying mesophotic and deep benthic communities in the Gulf of Mexico toexpand our fundamental ecological understanding of these systems, particularly in the broader context of how they are connected to pelagic biomass. Using this research to inform and apply better management, conservation, and restoration practices will undoubtedly serve our oceans, world, and us.

Interesting fact about yourself?

I love playing basketball – so much so that I volunteered as a practice player for three (-1 for COVID-19) years on Villanova Women’s NCAA Basketball Team. I enjoy hiking, boxing, cooking, and reading. I also like to dabble in many different outdoor activities. I am a big proponent of ArcGIS and StoryMaps, so much so that I’ve made a few for myself: and