Meet David Baker
Big problems are hard to solve. Unquantified problems are even more so. Dr David Baker will tell you just as much with regard to coral reefs, whose existence is threatened by our usage of oceans as waste dumping sites. Comparing Florida coast’s daily sewage outfalls of hundreds of millions of gallons of semi-treated sewage into the Atlantic to the 2010’s BP oil spill, David Baker is raising alarm about the rapid decline of coral reef ecosystems and the contamination of marine waters.
After studying Biology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, David further explored the subject at the American University, before obtaining his Doctorate in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University in 2010. He went on to become a Postdoctoral Fellow at MarineGeo, a Visiting Investigator at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and presently, he is an Assistant Professor at HKU’s School of Biological Sciences- studying how corals function and how they have changed overtime in order to preserve them for future generations. His vibrantly themed coral biogeochemistry lab (thelifeisotopic.com) further explores other ways in which we are crippling the survival of coral. Coral is codependent on algae, providing it with nutrients to grow, while algae photosynthesises waste from coral to sustain it. Climate change is destroying this balance. David’s research was instrumental in debunking myths that algae flee their coral hosts in warmer temperatures, leaving bleached dying reefs. Instead, David and his team showed how, due to climate change, algae thrives even more but at the expense of the coral. The algae multiplies, depleting the carbon reserves corals need to survive. Whether through heat or waste, David’s research clearly shows that our activities are depleting coral reefs.
Just as David scuba dives deep under water to reach the marine environment he seeks to preserve, he will take us along with him in his TEDxEncompass Talk, bringing the urgent conversation of our impact on the ecology and evolution of oceans to the surface.