Dr. Ken Baker greatly enjoys his twin roles at Heidelberg as a scientist and a professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. As an ecologist, he is interested in questions about how living organisms interact with each other and with their environmental surroundings. Over the years, his curiosity has led him to explore a wide diversity of research topics, from fleas on flying squirrels and competition for food between birds and salamanders to the recovery of a stream fish community following a massive hazardous chemical spill.
His primary research focus over the past decade has been an investigation of the spread of an exotic (non-native) fish species, the round goby, within Lake Erie. Using scuba-based survey methods, he has compiled an extensive data set documenting changes in goby abundance in the western end of Lake Erie, from their first introduction into the lake. Because gobies feed heavily on two species of invasive clams (the zebra mussel and the quagga mussel) which had been accidentally introduced in Lake Erie several years before the arrival of the gobies, Dr. Baker has been monitoring distributional changes in these animals as well.
As an educator at a small liberal arts university, he has had the opportunity to develop and teach quite an array of courses. Besides introductory courses for both majors and non-majors, he has also taught field biology, ecology, animal behavior, evolution, ichthyology, ornithology, environmental science, environmental law and regulations, biostatistics and scuba diving. In addition to these classes, he especially enjoys mentoring and working with students on independent research projects. Many weekends will find him out with a group of students conducting electrofishing surveys of fish communities in area streams or the Sandusky River.
Dr. Baker says, "The opportunity for Heidelberg biology and environmental science majors to extend what they learn in the classroom with research experiences in the field and laboratory is one of the chief advantages our program."