Paul Baker, professor of earth and ocean sciences, Duke Univ.

DURHAM, N.C. – Paul A. Baker, professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

The honor recognizes scientific eminence in the geosciences and is bestowed upon only 0.1 percent of AGU’s total membership annually.

Baker is widely cited for his research on paleoclimatology, which looks to understand climate change on time-scales from decades to millions of years, and for his pioneering work in the emerging field of geogenomics. Much of his recent work has focused on what forces natural climate variability; how geology, biology and climate interact to influence the ecology and diversity of organisms in the tropics; and how climate change and other human activities will affect the eventual fate of these organisms.

He is principal investigator on the Trans-Amazon Drilling Project (TADP), a joint initiative of the International Continental Drilling Program and the International Ocean Discovery Program. TADP’s mission is to drill deep into the Earth at sites transecting the Amazon basin from the Andes to the Atlantic to collect sedimentary evidence that will help scientists better document the evolution of plant biodiversity in Amazon forests and relate biotic diversification there to changes in the physical environment, including climate, tectonism, and the surface landscape.

Baker and the rest of this year’s 62 Fellows will be honored on Dec. 12 at AGU’s Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.

He is the fifth Nicholas School faculty member to receive the honor in the past four years.

Peter K. Haff, professor emeritus of geology and civil and environmental engineering, was a 2016 honoree. Susan Lozier, Ronie-Richelle Garcia-Johnson Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences, and Drew Shindell, Nicholas Professor of Earth Sciences, were named AGU Fellows in 2014 alongside Ana Barros, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Barros holds faculty appointments at both the Pratt School of Engineering and the Nicholas School.  

Other faculty members to receive the high honor include William H. Schlesinger, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Biogeochemistry, who was named a Fellow in 2006, and Gabriel G. Katul, Theodore S. Coile Professor of Hydrology and Micrometeorology, who was elected in 2002.