Derek Skillings

Dept of Philosophy UNC Greensboro

About Me

I am an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I received my Ph.D. in philosophy from The CUNY Graduate Center, my both my Ph.D. in zoology and my M.A. in philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 


I specialize in philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and environmental ethics/philosophy. I work primarily on biological individuality and explanation and causal reasoning in biology. I am particularly interested in the problem of how to approach the complex and hierarchical nature of living systems when investigating biological phenomena and constructing explanations. I have ongoing projects on biological individuality, holobionts, robustness, causal explanation, speciation and lineage concepts, and biological organization. I also have side projects in the history of biology, on marine population connectivity, and on a Buddhist approach to the ontology of living systems.​

My biology research has focused on conservation biology, evolutionary ecology, and phylogeography. I did the majority of this research at The Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology working with the coral reefs and organisms within the incomparable Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.


I teach a wide range of courses. Recently these have included Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Time & Space, Environmental Philosophy, Environmental Ethics, Ethics and Genetics, Medical Ethics, Intro to Ethics, Critical Thinking, and Intro to Philsophy. I have also taught courses on Logic and Formal Reasoning, Scientific Revolutions, Business Ethics, Marine Biology, Invertebrate Biology, Animal Diversity, Parasitology, and seminars on Darwin's On the Origin of Species and the History of Genetics. 


Outside of my research I enjoy hiking, camping, diving, video/board/role-playing games, the sci-fi and fantasy genres, and putting together LEGOs with my daughter. I am also passionate about cooking, barbecuing, brewing and baking.


For an introduction to some of the topics I work on, check out these articles I wrote for Aeon Magazine.

Life is not easily bounded. Aeon Magazine 

I, holobiont. Are you and your microbes a community or a single entity. Aeon Magazine


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