Get to Know Phil Kerr

What positions have you previously held leading up to your current role?

I've led a number of different technology teams during my career at Solae LLC and Dupont Nutrition & Health, ranging from new food/feed Ingredient Discovery, Product Development, Nutrition Science and Engineering R&D.


What initially sparked your interest in the life science industry?

My father was an agricultural scientist for UD Government in the USDA and in academia at the University of Missouri.  He was both a great mentor and helped spark my early interest in agriculture.


Which leader in life science do you most look up to? 

One I think deserves more awareness that he often receives: Dr. Orville Vogel. His efforts in the development of hardy wheat varieties that, in turn, were shared with Dr. Norman Borlaug helped enable the Green Revolution.  Dr. Borlaug receives much of the praise for the success of the Green Revolution, and he often acknowledged Dr. Vogel's efforts as being the foundation for much of its success.  Fortunately, Vogel was eventually awarded the US's National Medal of Science in 1975.   


What advice do you have for anyone pursuing a career in life science? 

Be voraciously curious yet disciplined to spend enough time to fundamentally understand the basic science principles that apply to the phenomena in life science. Look for opportunities to learn, help others through your knowledge and teach others that want to push that knowledge to an even greater extent.


What do you do in your spare time? 

I'm a big fan of many spectator sports and also enjoy time spent outdoors on fitness and gardening.

What's your favourite Canadian dish? 

Shellfish from Kusshi! Oysters from BC in the west, to PEI mussels in the east, to Grand Banks scallops … all terrific.

What do you most value in your friends? 

Their optimism, coupled with their sense of humour.

Which superpower would you most like to have?

Talent ... I wish I were multi-lingual.  Superpower? Ability to travel back in time.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The key roles I have played in helping transform the vision of my long-term employer (DuPont) from one of a chemical company to one where biology, agriculture and nutrition were the pillars of innovation for the company to meet the needs of its global customers.

Which living person do you most admire?

Dr. C.J. Nelson, an Emeritus Professor of Agronomy and Fellow of the CSSA. A forage crop physiologist of world renown, and now well into his 80's, still giving back to global agriculture education for the next generation of crop scientists.


Who are your heroes in real life? 

Too many to name, but they all share the qualities of passion to their craft and a commitment to use it to serve and inspire others to follow their lead.


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