Kathleen Baker

Photo of Kathleen Baker
Kathleen Baker
(269) 387-3345
(269) 387-3442
3238 Wood Hall, Mail Stop 5424
Mailing address: 
Department of Geography, Environment, and Tourism
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5424 USA
  • Ph.D., Geography, Michigan State University, 2002
  • M.A., Geography, Western Michigan University, 1998
  • B.S., Earth Science, Central Michigan University, 1995
  • Certified Geographic Information Systems Professional
Teaching interests: 
  • Physical geography
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Biogeography
  • Spatial analysis
Research interests: 
  • Geographic Information Science
  • Physical geography
  • Biogeography and agriculture

Dr. Kathleen Baker is a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Tourism at Western Michigan University.

Her research combines geographic methods for spatial and temporal analysis with field-based research in the physical sciences such as geology, soil science, meteorology and climatology, and plant pathology.

Baker was awarded funding from the USDA to develop methods for a multi-scale, multi-crop, multi-regional crop disease forecasting system based on new publicly available data sources and web based information delivery systems. The overarching goal of the project is to reduce the impact of weather sensitive diseases on profitable crop production in the U.S., while at the same time reducing fungicide input. The project involves high volumes of data, integration of data sources, scientific workflows and online access to daily forecasts. As a proof of concept that such a system will be beneficial in a variety of cropping systems throughout the U.S. the following are used as regional case studies:

  • leaf spot of peanuts in Georgia and northern Florida,
  • Fusarium head blight of barley in the northern Great Plains, and
  • late blight of potato in Michigan.

Baker is also a co-principle investigator on the National Science Foundation funded project Geocognitive Basic Research and Expert-Novice Studies. The purpose of GeoBRAENS is to develop a better understanding of how geologists solve problems and perform geologic mapping tasks. Baker’s role is in the analysis of field navigation data, GPS tracks and maps produced during controlled mapping tasks. Ultimately, this knowledge may help us to improve the education of future geoscience students.

Baker is a member of the Association of American Geographers and the International Network for Information Technology in Agriculture.