Robert J. Baker, PhD (1942-2018)

We are very saddened to report that Dr. Robert J. Baker, 75, passed away on Friday, March 30th. 

Dr. Baker was the key figure in the establishment, growth, and development of the Natural Science Research Laboratory from 1972 until his retirement in 2015.  In addition to his role in the history of the NSRL, we want to recognize Robert’s contributions to the discipline of mammalogy, to education, to Texas Tech University, and to all of our lives.  Dr. Baker will be missed by his many students, colleagues, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Natural Science Research Laboratory Fund for Excellence, the Bobby Baker Memorial Scholarship Fund, or planting a tree in remembrance of Robert's own passion for tree-planting. Instructions for donating can be found here.

Please keep Laura and the Baker family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Obituary and guest book for leaving messages of condolence:

A professional obituary for Robert J. Baker, authored by Hugh Genoways et al., has been published in the August issue of the Journal of Mammalogy

Robert J. Baker (Emeritus)

R. J. Baker's c.v.R. J. Baker's PublicationsBaker's Former Students and Postdocs

Curator of Mammals, Emeritus, Natural Science Research Laboratory, Museum of TTU

Horn Professor, Emeritus, Genome Organization, Chromosome Evolution, and Mammalogy, Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University


Ph.D., University of Arizona, 1967
M.S., Oklahoma State University, 1965
B.S., Arkansas A&M College, 1963



My research centers on genome organization and evolutionary biology and how recent advances in providing genetic data can assist in understanding mammalian evolution. Two recent papers (Bradley and Baker, 2001 and Baker et al., 2003) reflect this area of research. The Genetic Species Concept paper (Bradley and Baker, 2001) was in the top 1% of cited scientific papers of all scientific papers in 2004. The paper on Phylogeny of Phyllostomid Bats (Baker et al., 2003) was resolution of the questions I posed in my PhD dissertation of 1967. It was truly a joy to provide this level of resolution to that phylogeny. Another area of interest is chromosomal evolution with a focus on in situ hybridization. An example of this research is Baker and Wichman (1990). The laboratory also places an emphasis on identifying DNA markers to establish natal origin of populations, sex of individuals, and cultivar identifications with an ultimate goal of providing resolution and information critical to managing and understanding populations and cultivars.


  • Baker, R. J. and R. D. Bradley. 2006. Speciation in mammals and the Genetic Species Concept. Journal of Mammalogy 87(4):643-662.


  • Genoways, H. H., R. J. Baker, J. W. Bickham, and C. J. Phillips. 2005. Bats of Jamaica. Special Publications of the Museum of Texas Tech University 48.


  • Chesser, R.K., M. Bondarkov, R.J. Baker, J.K. Wickliffe, and B.E. Rodgers. 2004. Reconstruction of radioactive plume characteristics along Chernobyl's Western Trace. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 71:147-157.


  • Baker, R.J., S.R. Hoofer, C.A. Porter, and R.A. Van Den Bussche. 2003. Diversification among New World Leaf-Nosed Bats: an evolutionary hypothesis and classification inferred from digenomic congruence of DNA sequence. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University 230:i+1-32.


  • Baker, R.J., L.C. Bradley, R.D. Bradley, J.W. Dragoo, M.D. Engstrom, R.S. Hoffmann, C.A. Jones, F. Reid, D.W. Rice, and C. Jones. 2003. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University 229:1-22.


  • Baker, R.J., M. Hamilton, and D.A. Parish. 2003. Preparations of mammalian karyotypes under field conditions. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University 228:i+1-8.


  • Bradley, R. D., and R. J. Baker. 2001. A test of the Genetic Species Concept: cytochrome-b sequences and mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 82(4):960-973.


  • Baker, R. J., C. J. Phillips, R. D. Bradley, J. M. Burns, D. Cooke, G. F. Edson, D. R. Haragan, C. Jones, R. R. Monk, J. T. Montford, D. J. Schmidly, and N. C. Parker. 1998. Bioinformatics, museums and society: integrating biological data for knowledge-based decisions. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Texas Tech University 187:i+1-4.


  • Baker, R. J., and J. W. Bickham. 1986. Speciation by monobrachial centric fusions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 83:8245-8248.


  • Baker, R. J., and J. W. Bickham. 1980. Karyotypic evolution in bats: Evidence of extensive and conservative chromosomal evolution in closely related taxa. Systematic Zoology 29:239-253.


  • Bickham, J., and R. J. Baker. 1979. Canalization model of chromosomal evolution. Pp. 70-84 in Models and Methodologies in Evolutionary Theory. (J. H. Schwartz and H. B. Rollins, eds.). Bulletin of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History 13.


A Full List of Dr. Baker's Publications

Dr. Baker's Former Students and Postdocs


Other Resources:

Baker's Website in Biological Sciences [offsite]