Robin Baker (biologist)

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Dr Robin Baker 1998 West Didsbury.jpg

Robin Baker (born 13 March 1944) is a British novelist, popular science writer, lecturer and broadcaster. A best-selling author in the field of sexual biology[1] his books have been translated into 27 different languages. These include the international bestseller Sperm Wars which was based on his own lab’s original research on human sexuality.[2] His work and ideas on the evolution of human behaviour have been featured in many radio and television programmes around the world.

Biography[edit]

Born in Wiltshire, England in 1944, Robin Baker grew up in the small village of Manningford Bruce in the Vale of Pewsey.[3] Educated at Marlborough Royal Free Grammar School, where thirty years earlier the author William Golding had also been educated, he gained his BSc degree (a First Class in Zoology) from the University of Bristol in 1965, where he also gained a doctorate in 1969 under H. E. Hinton, FRS (1912–1977). His Ph.D. thesis was on the evolution of the migratory habit in butterflies and applied for the first time the principles of the new and growing disciplines of behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology to the field of insect migration.[4] This work was subsequently published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. He moved to the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1970 and from there to the University of Manchester in 1974 where he was first a lecturer, and in 1981 a Reader in Zoology in the School of Biological Sciences. In 1996 he left academic life to concentrate on his career in writing and broadcasting. He currently lives in the foothills of the Sierras in Southern Spain with his family. He has four sons and two daughters.

Academic Work
Although his early work was on evolutionary aspects of insect migration and territoriality, his interests broadened. With G.A. Parker and V.G.F. Smith in 1972, he proposed a leading theory for the evolution of anisogamy and two sexes[5] and in 1979, with G.A. Parker he proposed the Unprofitable Prey Theory of the evolution of bird coloration.[6] In 1978 in his book The Evolutionary Ecology of Animal Migration[7] he wrote for the first time on the theme that permeated his work for the rest of his academic life: the application of the principles of evolutionary biology to the behaviour of humans. This led in the 1980s to controversial work on the role of magnetoreception in the navigation of humans,[8] and in the 1990s (with Mark Bellis) to a study of sperm competition in humans[2] and rats, including proposal of the kamikaze sperm hypothesis. Baker and Bellis’ research into the evolutionary biology of infidelity, masturbation, sperm polymorphism, and sperm number in humans, as well as into the design and function of the human penis and cervix led to a number of scientific papers and an academic book: Human Sperm Competition: copulation, masturbation and infidelity.

Writing[edit]

As well as being the author of around one hundred scientific papers and six academic books, Robin Baker is the author of four popular science books: Sperm Wars; Baby Wars; Sex in the Future; and Fragile Science. He has also written three novels: Primal; Caballito; and The Hitchhiker’s Child which under the guise of being sexual whodunits continue the theme of the evolution of human sexual behaviour.[9] His first novel, Primal, was likened [10] to both the TV series Lost and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. It describes a group of university students and staff stranded on a remote desert island occupied by feral chimpanzees. Bit by bit the people find themselves stripped of all the trappings of civilization until like the apes around them they have only their instincts to guide them.

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Scientist, 18 May 96, p. 52
  2. ^ a b Channel 4, 60 minute TV Documentary. Women – The inside story, first broadcast 1996
  3. ^ Where are they now? Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, 14 December 1978
  4. ^ The Times Newspaper, Science Report, 9 April 1968
  5. ^ Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1993) An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, 3rd Ed., Blackwell, p. 176
  6. ^ Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1993) An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, 3rd Ed., Blackwell, p. 101
  7. ^ Book Review: Animals on the Move, New Scientist, 9 November 1978
  8. ^ BBC 30 minute TV Documentary: Naturewatch, first broadcast October 1982
  9. ^ Sexual whodunits and evolutionary psychology: the shaping of three novels. Evolutionary Psychology 11(1): 243-247
  10. ^ News of the World, Book Review (25 July 2009)

External links[edit]