Scott Baker '77, Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation
AOC: Environmental Studies
Scott Baker is a 2011 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, who began his research focus during his undergraduate studies at New College. As a student, he participated in a pioneering dolphin study in Sarasota Bay — weighing, measuring, tagging, drawing blood and taking tissue samples. Baker was tasked by researchers to help use a seine net for the capture and release of wild dolphins. At 6-foot-4-inches tall, he was able to stand in the bay with his head well above the water to see dolphins below the surface.
His Pew Fellowship is funding a large-scale study on the genetic diversity and relatedness of dolphin populations in the western Pacific.
“Through Dr. Baker’s application of ‘seascape genetics,’ we can better understand the distribution and migration of dolphins and other top predators,” said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. “Dr. Baker’s project can help guide policy decisions for creating permanent areas not only to protect dolphins, but other highly migratory creatures as well.”
Baker also participated as the lead DNA scientist for the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, an ‘eco-thriller’ about the international dolphin capture trade in Taiji, Japan. His investigations of ‘whale meat’ markets in Japan and Korea have contributed to molecular methods for estimating levels of illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) exploitation of whales and dolphins. For The Cove, Baker used a portable genetics lab to identify the unlawful sale of protected species in the local food market.
Baker is associate director of the Marine Mammal Program and professor of fisheries and wildlife at Oregon State University. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has been the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Heredity since 2008 and chairs the Executive Committee of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium. Baker received his doctorate in zoology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and did his postdoctoral training at the Smithsonian Institution and National Cancer Institute.