Biology Professor Named Texas Distinguished Scientist of the Year

Robert Baker honored by Texas Academy of Sciences.

Robert Baker, Horn Professor of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University, was named the Texas Distinguished Scientist of the Year by the Texas Academy of Sciences.

Baker received the award March 2 during the 110th annual meeting of the Texas Academy of Science, held in Waco. The academy promotes collegiate scientific research in Texas, supports undergraduate research and enhances professional development of its members.

"The academy chooses to recognize someone each year – either one scientist or sometimes a team of scientists," Baker said. "All the scientists in Texas who do research are eligible. It’s a special honor. It’s pretty difficult to believe you’d be the one they’d pick."

Ray Mathews, currently president-elect of the academy, chaired this year’s awards committee. First started in 1979, the Texas Distinguished Scientists is the highest honor bestowed by the academy.

Though committee members had a difficult choice out of the seven nominations, Mathews said Baker’s experience in teaching and in research made him the top choice.

"Dr. Baker has 40 years of experience teaching at Texas Tech University," Mathews said. "As a Horn Professor, he has highest professorship level the university provides. His contributions to mammalogy, chromosomal evolution, genetics, and molecular systematics have had national and international prominence and notoriety. In addition, he has helped establish one of the premier National History Collections in the nation at Texas Tech. It wasn’t any one thing I could encapsulate. It was his experience which made him our leading candidate."

Baker is the third Texas Tech University professor to win the award. Mammalogist J. Knox Jones won the award in 1992. Geologist Grover E. Murray won the award in 1986.

CONTACT: Robert Baker, Horn Professor of Biology at Texas Tech University’s Department of Biological Sciences, (806) 742-2936, or