My research focuses on the intersection between geology and water, from caves to aquifers. Using stalagmites I reconstruct past climates, past groundwater recharge, and past fire history. I characterise organic matter in natural and human environments, from groundwater to drinking water. Common themes include an interdisciplinary scientific approach between the subject areas of Environmental Earth Science and Engineering, and the use of isotopic and geochemical techniques
My research focuses on the intersection between geology and water, from caves to aquifers. Using stalagmites I reconstruct past climates, past groundwater recharge, and past fire history. I characterise organic matter in natural and human environments, from groundwater to drinking water. Common themes include an interdisciplinary scientific approach between the subject areas of Environmental Earth Science and Engineering, and the use of...view more
My research focuses on the intersection between geology and water, from caves to aquifers. Using stalagmites I reconstruct past climates, past groundwater recharge, and past fire history. I characterise organic matter in natural and human environments, from groundwater to drinking water. Common themes include an interdisciplinary scientific approach between the subject areas of Environmental Earth Science and Engineering, and the use of isotopic and geochemical techniques. I have published over 260 internationally refereed papers in high citation-rate journals including Nature, Science, Nature Communications and Nature Geoscience. pdfs of my papers can be found at my personal webpage. I have been awarded, and have successfully managed over 75 successful research grant applications. I was awarded a Millennium Awards Fellowship in 1999, a Phillip Leverhulme Prize for Geography in 2003, a Durham University Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship in 2009, and the Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources in 2015. In 2021 I was awarded Fellowships of the Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association and the American Geophysical Union. My H index is between 68 (Scopus) and 80 (Google Scholar).
Higher Degree Research Projects
Recent PhD, MPhil and MRes graduates are:
Phetdala Oudone (PhD). The processes determining dissolved organic carbon (DOC) character and concentration in groundwater in different geological environments (co-supervised by Martin Andersen, Denis O’Carroll and Helen Rutlidge). 2022
Katie Coleborn (PhD). Wildfire records in cave stalagmites (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO). 2020
Luke McPhan (PhD). Influential factors of larval fish growth rates and condition in light of flow regulation (co-supervised with Kim Jenkins, Paul Humphries (CSU) and Lee Baumgartner (NSW DPI). 2020
Nur Zainuddin (PhD). Groundwater arsenic geochemistry (co-supervised with Martin Andersen). 2020
Liza McDonough (PhD). Groundwater dissolved organic matter (provisional) (co-supervised by Martin Andersen, Denis O’Carroll and Helen Rutlidge). Conferred 2019.
Carol Tadros (PhD). Understanding the trace element proxy in Australian speleothems (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO). Graduated 2019
Bian Fang (MRes). Cave records of environmental change (co-supervised by Pauline Treble, ANSTO and Alison Blyth, Curtin). Graduated. 2018
Katarina David (PhD). Understanding surface water – groundwater connectivity using novel geotechnical and geochemical approaches (co-supervised with Wendy Timms). Graduated 2018.
Eliza Bryan (PhD). Isotope geochemistry of groundwater at Rottnest Island (co-supervised with Karina Meredith (ANSTO), Martin Andersen and Vince Post (Flinders). Graduated 2017.
Alexandra Auhl (MPhil). Microbial activity in hyporheic and groundwater using cotton strips (co-supervised by Martin Andersen, Cameron Holley and Helen Rutlidge). Graduated 2018.
Mohammedreza Keshavarsi (PhD). Novel geochemical and geophysical characterization of fractured rock aquifers (co-supervised with Bryce Kelly. Graduated 2017
Monika Markowska (PhD). Climate – infiltration – speleothem proxy relationship, Harrie Wood Cave (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO). Graduated 2017.
Peter Graham (PhD). Hydrogeology and organic matter characterization of alluvial and fractured rock aquifer systems, Wellington NSW (co-supervised with Martin Andersen). Graduated 2016
Kashif Muhmud (PhD). Novel geostatistical approaches for hydrogeological modeling (co-supervised with Gregoire Mariethoz). Graduated 2015.
Yulia Shutova (PhD). Fluorescence characterization of drinking water dissolved organic matter (co-supervised with R. Henderson). Graduated 2015.
Shahad Aljanabi (PhD). Organic matter fluorescence in drinking water distribution systems (co-supervised with J. Bridgeman). Graduated 2013.
Sahana Harun (PhD). Hydrology and water quality of the Kinabatagan catchment, Borneo (co-supervised with C. Bradley). Graduated 2013.
Jessie Roe (PhD). Organic matter characterization for drinking water treatment (co-supervised with J. Bridgeman). Graduated 2011.
TEACHING & OUTREACH
Courses I teach GEOS2291 Earth's Interconnections (where I teach surface and groundwater geochemistry, water quality and groundwater recharge). GEOS1211 Earth & Environmental Science (course coordinator). I am also a regular teacher at advanced level short-courses at international conferences, workshops and summer schools.
I emigrated to Australia in late 2009 to become an investigator in the Australian Research Council and National Water Commission co-funded National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT; 2009-2014), and Associate Director of the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre at UNSW Sydney.
Within the NCGRT, I was invited to take on the leadership role of Research Program Leader for the research theme ‘Innovative Characterisation of Aquifers and Aquitards’ from 2011 to 2014. This research theme was the only one led from NSW, attracting $7.2M of funding to the State, attracting researchers from interstate and overseas, and supporting partners NSW DPI. The research funding was primarily for research training (postdoc and PhD stipends) and was brought in on-time and on-budget. Within the NCGRT, I had overall responsibility to build a team of over twenty early career researchers from two universities (UNSW and QUT) and two partners (NSW DPI and Geoscience Australia). During my watch, all key performance indicators of the NCGRT were met, all PhD and postdoc staff appointed, mentored, and have entered employment in both academia and industry within the State, as well as nationally and internationally.
From 2012 to 2015 I was the Director of the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre at UNSW Sydney. I lead the centre comprising approximately 40 groundwater researchers from three faculties and four schools spread across two campuses. Centre leadership required good management skills combined with support from a strong management team, and I believe I was successful in this regard, with the CWI successfully managing major projects to completion which include the $15M Federal Government NCRIS Groundwater Infrastructure project which brought significant investment to regional NSW, and the NCGRT contract
Since 2012, I have served as a Member of the NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage ‘Karst Management Advisory Committee’ based upon my expertise in karst hydrogeology and cave and karst science. Within that committee, I have provided advice which includes the effects of fire on caves and karst and the environmental impacts on karst associated with ‘’Snowy Hydro 2.0’’.
From 2015-2018 I was as the Director of Research for the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. The School comprises a large and dynamic research environment with over 100 research staff. My leadership and mentoring roles included supporting colleagues in Australian Research Grant Applications. In the first national engagement and impact exercise (EI 2018), I led the Environmental Sciences engagement statement, which was top-rated as ‘’high’’ (defined as the interaction between researchers and research end-users outside of academia, for the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies, methods or resources). I am part of the School research team that contributed to the top rating of ‘5’ or “outstanding performance well above world standard” for Earth Sciences (FOR 04) and Environmental Sciences (FOR 05) in the recent ERA assessment.
I am currently a member of the ARC College of Experts.
Selected Recent Research Grants
Baker, A., Shanafield, M., Timms, W., Melo Zurita, M. and Andersen, M.S., 2022. National Groundwater Observation System (NGROS). ARC LIEF 2022
Baker, Treble P. and McDonough, L. Reconstructing Australia's fire history from cave stalagmites. Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2020. Project webpage
Hartmann, A., Andreo, B., Baker, A., Gleeson, T., Gutierrez, H., Kunstmann, H., Rosolem, R., Wada, Y., Wagener, T. and Zehe, E. Global Assessment of Water Stress in Karst Regions in a Changing World. German Research Foundation (DFG) 2017.
Baker, A, O'Carroll, D, Andersen, M. and Meredith, K. Groundwater organic matter: carbon source or sink? Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2016 www.groundwaterDOC.org
Baker, A, Meredith, K, Pigois, J, Norman, M., Post, V and Shortland-Jones, H. Unlocking the secrets of the groundwater cycle using Si and Li isotopes. Australian Research Council Linkage Project 2015 www.groundwaterLiSi.org
Baker, A, Turney, C, Cartwright, I, Schulmeister, J, Larsen, J, Jenkins, K, Pickford, R, Timms, W. A coupled high temperature elemental analyser - gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer for climate, water and ecological research. ARC LIEF 2014
Baker, A, Meehan, S, Treble, P, Andersen, M, Fairchild, I, Spate, A, Tozer, M and Baker A. To what extent does fire affect karst processes? Burning questions for fire management. ARC Linkage Round 2013
Baker, A., Khan, S.J., Blyth, A.J., Source – receptor analysis of lignin phenols and microbial tetraether membrane lipids in karst to quantify stalagmite biomarker proxies of vegetation and temperature change. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 2011-2014.
Baker, A., Drysdale, R. Frisia, S., Treble, P, Acworth, I., Hua, Q., Herries, A, Meissner, K., and Fink, D. ‘A mass spectrometer to analyse carbonate isotope records of Australia's climate, soil and groundwater history’. Australian Research Council LIEF 2011.
EDUCATION, ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS
1990-1993 Bristol University, UK. PhD, entitled "Speleothem Growth Rate and Palaeoclimate"
1987-1990 Bristol University, UK. BSc (Hons) degree in Geographical Science.
PRIZES, HONOURS AND AWARDS
2021 Fellow, American Geophysical Union
2021 Fellow, Australasian Cave and Karst Management Association
2019 Outstanding Associate Editor, Water Research.
2015 Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources.
2009 Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Studies, Durham University
2003 Philip Leverhulme Prize, Leverhulme Trust
1999 Millennium Awards Fellow, UK Millennium Commission
My Research Supervision
Areas of supervision
Reconstruction of fire history from cave stalagmites - come and join our ARC Discovery Project team.
Karst groundwater hydrology - how much rain is needed to recharge the groundwater? We have evidence from modern hydrology datasets... When was the groundwater recharged in the past? Analyse cave stalagmites and hydrology datasets to find out.