Alan L. Baker, Ph.D.

Alan L. Baker, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

My specialization is Phycology -- the study of algae.  With an academic research background from Minnesota, I have been most interested in freshwater microbial algae and photosynthetic bacteria.  Geographic regions with which I have some working knowledge outside the U.S.A. include central Europe (Netherlands, Austria, Germany), tropical Australia (Jabaru) and Tasmania (Gordon and Franklin Rivers).  Now, of course, the temptation to look at oceanic phytoplankton has been great, and I've expanded my interests to include both marine and freshwater microscopic (microbial) algae.

Of particular interest to me is the population and community level interaction biologically, chemically and physically, of the microbial world -- algae, bacteria, protists and rotifers -- within microhabitats such as the thin-layer compartments of stratified water columns.  Such communities are excellent indicators of lake evolution, and may drive much of the bio-energetics of the entire lake system.

Cradle Mountain cirque, SW Tasmania

Cradle Mountain cirque, SW Tasmania
Photo credit: Parks & Wildlife Service, Tasmania

Another special interest is the evolution of lakes, on time scales from days to centuries.  Climatic changes are closely related to changing lakewater chemistry and planktonic communities, certainly in New England, and likely elsewhere.  While we tend to emphasize the role we play as humans, encroaching on and generally degrading aquatic systems, there is a strong influence of climate itself on the quality of natural systems. Cyclic changes of New England lakes are understood better in terms of climatic shifts, than industrial or recreational changes.

Much of my teaching and research interest has been enriched and promoted as a result of close collaboration with my counterpart in the Zoology Department, Professor J.F. Haney , internationally known for his long-term studies of Daphnia and other microcrustaceans.  Together we developed the Center for Freshwater Biology, which manages a popular lake monitoring program in New Hampshire and Maine that now includes two decades of observations.

I teach Microscopic Algae , Ecology of Freshwater Algae , General Limnology , Field Limnology , and Lake Management.  For the past few years, I've organized and collaborated with Professor Haney on the Freshwater and Marine Biology portion of Project SMART.

Alan L. Baker
Spaulding Rm 124