Phillip Kerr


What are your responsibilities with the IGS?

I am a quaternary geologist and I produce maps of the deposits left by glaciers during the last Ice Age. I also assist other geologist and hydrogeologist with their projects.

What are your research/project interests?

The idea of past continental ice sheets advancing repeatedly into Iowa is fascinating. Imagining how many times this state has been covered by ice is what motivates my research.

How can your research in your areas of interest improve the quality of life in Iowa?

Ice played an important role in forming the modern surface- changing river patterns, creating new surfaces for soil to form in, burring large volumes of water below the surface. Understanding how glaciers interacted with the landscape can inform Iowans when they require drinking water, aggregate resources, or reconstruct past climates.

What is your academic and professional background?

I received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and am currently finishing work on a Master’s project. This position was my first after graduating.

At about what age and why did you decide to become a geologist/scientist?

Growing up on a farm, I learned how to appreciate slow changes that one observes living in the same area for years. I wondered what it was like tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years in the past. “Were the hills different?” “Did the creek always have the same bends?” These inquiries naturally lead to becoming a geologist.

What field activity is your favorite?

I really enjoy collecting sediment core. Seeing what is beneath the surface is thrilling!

What do you like to do in your free time?

My favorite things to do when not looking at glacial till are woodworking and cooking way too spicy food.