University of Maine at Augusta

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Baker, Susan

Susan Baker
Associate Professor of Science

Office: 290 Jewett Hall, Augusta Campus
Phone: 207-621-3285
Office Hours:

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B.S., Brown University, 1979
M.Ed., University of Maine, 1995


Teaching Philosophy

The study of science requires the learning of a large amount of material at a high level of detail. My goal is to facilitate the learning of science by making it accessible while at the same time developing my students‚ academic skills. Whenever possible, I use examples, diagrams, and models to illustrate complex topics. Detailed learning objectives and a list of the potential essay questions are provided for each chapter. My goal is for you to understand the material. I believe in frequent testing and multiple assignments to break the material down into smaller, more manageable units.

Learning becomes more meaningful when students see the relevance between the course content and their lives. One way I address this is by incorporating a small group project that focuses on a health or environmental issue into many of my classes. For example, in a recent introductory chemistry class students researched issues related to lead poisoning, mercury in the environment, and dioxins in Maine waters. These projects build community and add to your understanding of material in a way the textbook cannot.

Much of my teaching is guided by the belief that students learn more when they are challenged to meet clearly defined expectations and when they are actively engaged in the learning process. Students leave my courses with stronger academic skills and greater confidence in their own abilities. They gain an understanding of the process of science and an appreciation of both the complexity and the simple beauty of science.

Professional Interests

I volunteered in a mountain vilage in Haiti six months after the 2010 earthquake.  This experience reinforced my committment to global health issues and lead to the creation of a course in global health.  BIO 494:  Perspectives in Global Health is a capstone option for students in Biology and BIO/MLT 2+ 2 programs.  Students in the course spend spring break volunteering in a health clinic and center for malnourished children in Cazale, Haiti. These experiences that put names, faces, and stories on the public health issues faced in under-developed countries deepens learning in a way no text, lecture, or academic reading can.  This results in a transformative learning environment.  A quote from a participant in the first academic service trip to Haiti illustrates this well.

Biology Team PictureMy experiences in a third world country were phenomenal.  It changed my life.  Having lived with the people of Cazale for one week, I walked away with a deep admiration and respect for the Haitian people.  They deserve what all people deserve, the right to clean water, adequate food, sanitation, and access to education, and healthcare.  I want to be a part of making that a reality. Judith McMahan. MLT/BIO major.

Make a Donation to Team Haiti – Your donation supports student participation in the academic service trip to Haiti.

  • Academic Service Trip to Haiti:  Rebuilding a Nation One Volunteer at a Time, presented with Juste Gatari (BA Arc, 2012) & Jennifer Thomas (AS MLT, 2012), New England Regional Honors Conference, 2011
  • How Children Approach Science: An X versus Y Investigation
    Presented with Anne Murphy, Biology major
    National Collegiate Honors Conference, Philadelphia, PA, Fall 2006
  • The Wonders of Weight Loss: The Psychological Benefits of Significant Weight Loss
    Presented with Shari Mather, Nursing major
    National Collegiate Honors Conference, St. Louis, MO, October, 2005
  • Changing Currents in Public Policy:A Proposal to Ban Brominated Flame Retardants
    Presented with Nancy Raymond and Leah Cushing, Biology majors
    National Collegiate Honors Conference, New Orleans, LA, November, 2004.
  • Women in Science: Their Challenges and Accomplishments
    Presented with Rebecca Vose and Dawn Bickford, Biology majors
    National Collegiate Honors Conference, Chicago, IL, October, 2001.

Honors & Awards

  • UMA Distinguished Educator Award, September 2012
  • Libra Professorship, 2012/2013
  • Maine Campus Compact Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence, 2012
  • Meritorious Achievement Award, College of Natural and Social Sciences, 2003- 2004
  • Student Choice Award, 1999, 2002 (honorable mention) ‚ presented by the Augusta Student Government Association in recognition of exemplary teaching and outstanding contributions by faculty to UMA students.
  • Outstanding Service to the Faculty Senate, 2003
  • Outstanding Contributions to Academic Advising, 1999
University of Maine at Augusta