Rob Baker, Principle Investigator
Rob studies the origin and maintenance of biodiversity, specifically plant form and function with an ultimate goal of furthering integration of evolutionary theory and developmental biology, improving agricultural sustainability, and contributing to plant restoration and conservation efforts. He tackles these problems from a basic science perspective by examining developmental variation at the intra-specific level while integrating techniques and approaches including quantitative genetics, genomics, transcriptomics, anatomy, morphology, and physiology in plants from a variety of natural, model, and crop systems.
Prior to joining the Biology Department at Miami University, Rob earned a B.A. in Biology from Reed College in Portland, OR. After his undergraduate studies, he worked for AgResearch, Ltd (Palmerston North, New Zealand) and the University of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder with Pamela Diggle (now at the University of Connecticut). At the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Rob received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Cynthia Weinig.
Current Lab Members
Alexa Tovrea-Treft, Botany M.A. Student
Office: Pearson 353
After spending a year doing research in the lab as an undergraduate, Alexa dove in and signed up for an Masters in Botany in the Baker Lab. Alexa is investigating the genetic basis of ab- vs. adaxial stomatal density in Brassica and Arabidopsis as well as exploring internships and opportunities outside academia for botanically minded folks.
Deannah Neupert, EEEB Ph.D. Student
Office: Pearson 353
Deannah Neupert joined the Baker Lab in the summer of 2020. She previously completed a USDA-REEU program at the College of Charleston and graduated from Francis Marion University with a double major in Biology and Chemistry. Deannah is studying the evolution and development of asexual reproduction in the threatened annual species Mimulus gemmiparus.
Tyler Thrash, PhD
Office: Pearson 353
Tyler Thrash joined the lab in the fall of 2019 to work on a systems biology approach to abiotic stress in Brassica rapa. Tyler earned a PhD at Miami University and has been conducting postdoctoral research at ETH Zürich. In the Baker Lab, Tyler will be looking at the connections between shoot and root architecture in a mapping population of Brassica rapa. He was lucky enough to witness the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence (Amorphophallus titanum, titan arum or corpse flower) on his first day in the lab!
Tim Pegg, Botany Ph.D. Student
Office: Pearson 353
Tim works on abiotic stress in Fabaceae, specifically root aerenchyma formation in response to flooding.
Grace Maynard, NSF REU Student, 2021
Grace is a Miami University Biology Major who joined the lab as an REU student working methods for high-throughput confocal microscopy to support our ongoing efforts in Brassica rapa systems biology.
Kathryn Sullivan, Summer Intern & Miami University English Major
Kathryn joined the lab after taking Introduction to Plant Biology at Miami University and has been working entirely remotely for almost a year on a large-scale leaf morphometrics project in Brassica rapa. In the summer of 2021, she was finally able to be physically present as she continues her morphometrics work and pitches in on various other projects as needed.
Baker Lab Alumni
Ryan Gerbitz, Undergraduate Researcher
Ryan (class of 2021) has put in countless hours in the greenhouse and lab helping to grow, measure, and image plants. His ability to happily wash an endless number of roots is legendary!
Hansol Lee, EEEB Ph.D. Student
Hansol studied in the Baker Lab from January, 2019 until December, 2020 while working towards a PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (EEEB). Her research includes the genetic architecture of ecophysiological responses to abiotic stress in Brassica rapa.
2019 Undergraduate Assistants
In the fall of 2019, a great group of undergrads including: Eastyn Newsome, Grace Brock, Sarah Neisen, Alexa Tovrea-Treft, Caleb Wilkinson, Wolfgang Graff, Indi Saxena, and Logan Mather worked in the Baker Lab alongside graduate student mentors to run a massive greenhouse experiment consisting of nearly 4,000 Brassica plants. They potted, planted, cared for, and collected data on these plants throughout the semester including washing hundreds of roots per day during finals week! What a crew!
Grace Brock, Undergraduate Researcher
Grace (class of 2020) was a Botany and Creative Writing double major at Miami University. She joined the Baker Lab in 2017 and in addition to her work in the lab, which includes bulking the Brassica RIL population, she is participating in the Plant Bio Super Group meetings in the Biology Department and is working on several writing projects for the lab. Grace is co-first author on a paper in Applications in Plant Sciences presenting methods for quantifying leaf venation. Grace is currently working as a full time Research Associate in Jonathan Bauer’s lab at Miami University.
Eastyn Newsome, Undergraduate Researcher
Eastyn (class of 2020) was a convert to from Bioengineering to Botany. In the Baker Lab, her current work focuses on the effects of plant-microbe interactions on root anatomy in Brassica rapa and stomatal density across multiple Brassica species. In addition to her work in the lab, Eastyn is a former member of the Miami University Equestrian team and continues horseback riding in her spare time (when she’s not working weekends in the lab). Eastyn is co-first author on a paper in Applications in Plant Sciences presenting methods for quantifying leaf venation. Eastyn is currently pursuing a Masters in Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University.
Logan Mather, Undergraduate Researcher
Logan (class of 2019) is a Botany Major who joined the lab to work on an independent study project concerning the development in Mimulus gemmiparus. In addition to his work in Mimulus, Logan pitches in on a variety of Brassica projects and is currently studying the ecophysiology of Eucalyptus in Chile.
Vada Bowen, Undergraduate Research Tech, Summer 2019
Vada is a Botany Major who assisted the lab in bulking Brassica seeds as well as running pilot studies aimed at teasing apart genetic and environmental interactions in the field.
Jared Lutz, Undergraduate Researcher 2017-2019
Jared Lutz (Class of 2019) was a Biology major who troubleshot high-throughput non-destructive protocols for quantifying leaf venation using several biomedical image analysis programs in the Baker lab. Jared was also captain of the Miami University water skiing team, and recently lead the team in their winning bid for the national championships! Jared is a co-author on a paper in Applications in Plant Sciences presenting methods for quantifying leaf venation.
Casey Albarran, REU student, 2018
Casey (class of 2019) was an undergraduate at Homboldt State University who joined the Baker Lab during the summer of 2018 for an NSF-REU program focused on Ecology in Human Dominated Landscapes. Casey worked on quantifying the micromorphological and anatomical inputs to Water Use Efficiency in a mapping population of Brassica rapa to elucidate genomic loci that could be used for increasing WUE and therefore improving agricultural sustainability.
Asuman Inan, Summer Intern, 2018
Asuman Inan was an undergraduate student at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. She worked on a number of projects including a multi-population developmental analysis of Mimulus branching patterns and a näive Bayes multiclass approach to high-throughput phenotyping in Brassica.
Ranger Baker-Nysson, Lab Mascot
Ranger’s dogged work ethic and willingness to go just about anywhere and do just about anything to finish a job once started – typically fetch – served as an inspiration to us all. Plus, he was very fluffy.