In Memoriam: Baker, Neil

Neil Baker, long-time member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and former Chair of the ASM Education Board, passed away on November 26, 2019, after battling pancreatic cancer for two years.  

Neil was a microbiology professor at The Ohio State University (OSU), where he followed his passion for teaching and mentoring for 30 years. He served the profession and ASM through numerous programs including the Ohio Branch of ASM, Student Chapters and student membership, undergraduate and graduate fellowships, and the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE).  He was the President of the Ohio Branch of ASM in 1995-1997, speaker for the ASM Foundation for Microbiology Lecturer Program in 1992-1994, member of the ASM Committee on Undergraduate Education in 1997-2005, and chair of the Education Board and member of the ASM Council Policy Committee in 2006-2015. 

Neil demonstrated his values through his practices.  At OSU he taught both science and non-science majors, instilling upon ALL students an appreciation and understanding of the scientific process culminating in real-life research experiences.  As a member of the ASM Committee on Undergraduate Education (currently Subcommittee on Undergraduate Education), Neil led the ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowships program (a program which since its inception 25 years ago has supported more than 500 undergraduates conducting microbiology research).  

Neil helped establish the ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE) in 1994.  Among his peers from public doctoral institutions, he was the first to outwardly support and advance undergraduate microbiology lecturers for developing the next generation of scientifically literate citizens and scientists. Although ASMCUE initially targeted microbiologists from community- and 4-year colleges, he convinced faculty from doctoral institutions that work with undergraduates to also participate.  As a result, ASMCUE now attracts faculty from community colleges, undergraduate institutions and doctoral universities equally and is a leading professional development activity for ALL faculty committed to undergraduates. 

While at OSU, Neil convinced colleagues to welcome and advance women and students from minority populations, and led OSU to be first among a cadre of doctoral institutions to support the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), the largest minority, undergraduate STEM student conference.  

After his retirement, Neil lived in Ocean City, Maryland with his wife, Patti.  He became an eco-tourism guide introducing people to both kayaking and the natural world of marshes, beaches, and tides.  He is survived by his wife Patti, son Chad, grandchildren, siblings and others.  

Prepared and submitted by Amy Chang, Director, ASM Education