Thomas C. Baker, ESA Fellow (2009)

Dr. Thomas C. Baker, upon graduation from high school, turned down Harvard University in order to attend Cornell because of his strong desire to attain a B.S. degree in entomology, which was awarded in 1972. He worked as a research technician for two years in Wendell Roelofs’ lab in Geneva, N.Y. and received his M.S. in entomology from Cornell in 1975. He received his Ph.D. in entomology from Michigan State University in 1979 under the guidance of Ring Cardé.

He joined the faculty at UC Riverside in late 1979, where he served as head of the Division of Toxicology and Physiology from 1986-1988, and as chair of the department from 1988-1992. He moved to Iowa State University in 1992, where he served as chair of the Department of Entomology until 1999. In 2003 he started his professorship at Penn State University, where he has continued to perform his research in neuroethology of olfaction and its applications for agents-of-harm detection and integrated pest management.

Since his days as a Cornell undergrad under the spirited tutelage of George Eickwort, Baker has always been grateful to be able to serve society as a “paid explorer” and to be one of the small group of citizens who are allowed to look through the microscope and see what new things they can see and report.

Baker’s always-small, but energetic and inquisitive, research groups over the years have helped advance our basic understanding of insect behavioral responses to pheromones and other odors, as well as the olfactory pathways underlying these responses. He feels fortunate to have had such talented and inspired graduate students and postdocs over the years explore with him the exciting new territories of insect chemical communication.

(updated August, 2009)