UT Professor Explains Geophysical Imaging at Science Forum

KNOXVILLE -– UT professor Gregory Baker has braved 115-degree weather in the deserts of Jordan and he’s endured the chilling winds of the Arctic, all because of his passion for science. Baker, professor of geophysics in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, will share his research experience from around the globe at the UT Science Forum on Friday, Sept. 22.

Baker’s presentation, “Fire and Ice: Geophysical Imaging in Jordanian Archaeology and Alaskan Glaciology,” will give UT students and faculty a glimpse into the work he’s done throughout the years. Baker uses non-invasive imaging tools, similar to those that doctors use, to study the earth.

“I tell my students that Mother Earth is my patient, and I use the imaging to find problems beneath the surface [of the earth] before people dig,” Baker said.

Baker’s studies are especially important to the success of archaeological excavations and government operations.

“The imaging I do for archaeologists gives them an overall picture of what’s buried beneath the earth,” Baker explained. “Archaeologists can use that information to target important areas to excavate.” Baker’s research also helps the military to locate unexploded ordnance beneath the earth.

“Two-thirds of what I do is developing new software, instruments and new technology,” said Baker, who has received research funding from the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Defense and Energy. “One-third of what I do is working on a wide variety of sites to image the earth.”

As a professor, Baker relies heavily on time management to balance his teaching and research. “One thing I love is that I have been able to involve undergraduate and graduate students in all of my projects,” Baker said. “I’ve taken eight students to Jordan and 12 students to Alaska.”

The UT Science Forum is held every Friday, from 12 to 1 p.m., in the Thompson-Boling Arena, Dining Room C-D. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions once the 40-minute presentation ends.

Upcoming Science Forum topics include the following:

• “Medicinal Plants of the Past–Some Snake Oil, Some Worthwhile,” Friday, Sept. 29, by Professor Jim Caponetti, professor emeritus of biology.

• “Use It or Lose It!–Any Body Can Exercise, Even at 92,” Friday, Oct. 6, by Professor Diane Klein and Martha Rider, post-doctoral fellow, Department of Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Science.

• “Advances in Radiation Therapy,” Friday, Oct. 20, by Dr. Chet Ramsey, medical physicist, Thompson Cancer Survival Center.

The complete schedule of Science Forum presentations for this semester is available online at http://www.tennessee.edu/scienceforum.

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Contacts:

Jay Mayfield, media relations, (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)

Gregory S. Baker, Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, (865-771-2819, gbaker@tennessee.edu)

Mark Littmann, forum organizer, (865-974-8156,
littmann@utk.edu)