Prof. Philip Alan Sandberg (1937-2016)

Posted on 10.23.2016
Sandberg Photo

Dr. Philip Sandberg, who served as Assistant Professor to Professor in the Department of Geology between 1965 and 1995, passed away this past August. Philip's death is a sad loss to all of us in the Department who remember him and much enjoyed his companionship, collegiality, and enthusiastic diversity of interests, ranging from the professional to languages, cooking, and the theater.

Philip received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Louisiana State University before going on to earn his Filosofie doktor in Historical Geology at the University of Stockholm. Philip came to Illinois as a micropaleontologist stressing his background working with cheilostome bryozoans at LSU and ostracodes at Stockholm. With W.W. Hay, then also a Professor of Geology in the Department, Philip became one of the early workers to stress use of the scanning electron microscope in paleontologic research, publishing a large chapter in the 1983 revision volume on bryozoans in the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology.

Probably most important among Philip's professional contributions, and seminal in the study of earth history, was a series of papers, beginning with an article in Nature published in 1983, treating the existence of an oscillating Phanerozoic temporal trend in non-skeletal carbonate (i.e., ooid and cement) mineralogy.  He proposed that the mechanism behind this variation was plate-tectonically influenced oscillations in the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere  

Philip was a popular teacher, his introductory course in the History of Life attracting large and enthusiastic classes, and his graduate students following his interests in micropaleontology and sedimentary petrology.