Brennan T. Phillips

  • Associate Professor of Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Phone: 401.874.6035
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 214 Sheets Building
  • Website


Brennan Phillips specializes in the development and application of novel instrumentation for oceanographic research. His current research topics include low-light imaging of deep-sea biology and bioluminescence, soft robotic manipulators, hydraulic systems, distributed sensing, and low-cost, lightweight methods for ocean exploration.

Dr. Phillips received his BS in Ocean Engineering from URI, an MS in Oceanography from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Oceanography from URI/GSO. Prior to joining the faculty at URI, Dr. Phillips served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory and was the lead ROV engineer/pilot for Dr. Robert Ballard. He is a passionate teacher and enjoys surfing, running, and spending time with his family.


  • Design and field deployment of novel deep-sea sensors and sampling equipment
  • Applying soft robotics to the marine environment
  • Low-light imaging techniques to visualize and measure marine bioluminescence
  • Advancing the design of ‘stealthy’, lightweight, and low-power deep-sea exploration platforms
  • Exploration of hydrothermal vents, submarine volcanos, and other chemosynthetic environments
  • Water-column exploration and gelatinous zooplankton


  • Ph.D. Oceanography, 2016, University of Rhode Island
  • M.S. Oceanography, 2007, University of Connecticut
  • B.S. Ocean Engineering, 2004, University of Rhode Island