G. Philip Robertson

G. Philip  Robertson
  • University Distinguished Professor of Ecosystem Science
  • W.K. Kellogg Biological Station
  • Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences




Phil Robertson is University Distinguished Professor of Ecosystem Science in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences at MSU, with which he has been associated since 1981. From 1988 to 2017 he directed the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program in Agricultural Ecology at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, where he is a resident faculty. He is currently science director for the Department of Energy’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

Dr. Robertson’s research interests include the biogeochemistry and ecology of field crop ecosystems and in particular nitrogen and carbon dynamics, greenhouse gas fluxes, and responses to climate change. His undergraduate and graduate teaching includes Agricultural Ecology, Biogeochemistry, and Soil Biology courses.

Dr. Robertson has been a SCOPE-Mellon postdoctoral fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1980-1981) and a sabbatical scholar at Cooperative Research Centres in Adelaide (1993-1994) and Brisbane (2001-2002), Australia. His service  includes membership on the Dept. of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) and past membership on the U.S. Carbon Cycle Scientific Steering Committee, chairmanships of competitive grants panels at the USDA, and membership on various NSF panels in the Biological and Geosciences directorates. He served as chair of the U.S. LTER Network from 2008-2011, and was a lead chapter author for the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment. He has served on National Research Council Committees and chaired the Environment Subcommittee of the NRC Committee on Opportunities in Agriculture (2002). He has testified before the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition Committee and participated in briefings for the U.S. House and Senate Science and Technology and Agriculture Committees.  He has also served as an editor for the journals Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Plant and Soil, Biogeochemistry, and PNAS.

Dr. Robertson is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America (2003) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS; 2015). In 2005 he received MSU’s Distinguished Faculty award. He received his BA from Hampshire College and his PhD in Biology (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)  from Indiana University.


  • Agricultural sustainability
  • Biogeochemistry and productivity of field crop ecosystems and landscapes