The names of Horton and Philip occur together so frequently in any discussion of infiltration that it is particularly appropriate that John R. Philip should be the recipient of the Robert E. Horton Medal. In 1931, Horton emphasized the need for ‘research to provide connective tissue between related problems,’ and Philip's achievements have gone far toward satisfying that need.
John R. Philip was born at Ballarat, some 70 miles from Melbourne, and attended Melbourne University, graduating as bachelor of civil engineering in 1946. After a few years of engineering experience with Queensland's Irrigation Commission, he took up a position as research scientist in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in 1951. He moved rapidly from analysis of the hydraulics of border irrigation to the general problems of infiltration and soil water movement and found analytical solutions to a wide range of problems in homogeneous porous media. In 1957, Philip and his colleague D. A. de Vries were awarded the Horton prize of the AGU for their paper on moisture movement in porous materials under temperature gradients. In 1960, Melbourne University awarded John Philip his doctorate of science for a thesis, ‘Physical Contributions to Microhydrology,’ consisting of 19 published papers.