Joel Baker, Ph.D.

Professor and Port of Tacoma Chair, Environmental Science ; Graduate Faculty

Specialty: Environmental Engineering and Sciences

Baker, Joel

Contact information

Dept: Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Room: CUW 312
Phone: 253-254-7030


  • Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1988.
  • M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1985.
  • B.S., Environmental Chemistry, State University of New York, 1981.


Professor Joel Baker holds the Port of Tacoma Chair in Environmental Science at the University of Washington Tacoma, where he serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research. He is the Science Director of the Center for Urban Waters, directs the UW Puget Sound Institute, and co-directs the Washington Stormwater Center. Dr. Baker's research examines the behavior of organic contaminants in the environment, specifically atmospheric transport and deposition, contaminant transport in estuaries, modeling the exposure and transfer of bioaccumulative chemicals in aquatic food webs, and the use of anthropogenic chemicals as tracers of environmental processes. Dr. Baker has led research in the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Hudson River, and the Puget Sound. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate in vivo dehalogenation of brominated diphenyl ethers in fish, a finding instrumental to the voluntary phase out these flame retardants. Dr. Baker has co-authored over ninety papers on contaminant cycling in the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters, and edited Atmospheric Deposition of Contaminants to the Great Lakes and Coastal Waters (SETAC Press).

Dr. Baker was elected as the inaugural chair of the Puget Sound Science Panel and served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Dr. Baker received the Presidents Award for Excellence in Application of Science from the University of Maryland, the Conservation Research Award from the Seattle Aquarium Society, and was named Outstanding Graduate Advisor by the University of Maryland Graduate Program in Marine and Environmental Science. He serves on the Board of Advisors for Salish Sea Expeditions, a marine education organization.

Dr. Baker received his B.S. degree in Environmental Chemistry from the State University of New York in Syracuse. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering were awarded by the University of Minnesota. He has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Maryland and at the University of Washington, and was visiting faculty at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission Joint Research Centre, in Ispra, Italy and at the Laboratory for Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Institutionen för Tillämpad Miljövetenskap, Stockholm University. Dr. Bakers research is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (for synthesis and integration of Puget Sound science), by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (for characterization of marine microplastic debris), and by the State of Washington (for the development and validation of stormwater treatment technologies).


Dr. Baker's research interests and current projects are available at his web site


Dr. Baker teaches courses in environmental chemistry, including pollutant fate and transport and water quality modeling. At UW Tacoma, these include:

  • TESC 261 Organic Chemistry II
  • TESC 333 Environmental Chemistry
  • TESC 433 Fate and Transport of Pollutants
  • TIAS 305 Environmental History of Tacoma

Selected Publications

  • Fang, M.D.; Lee, C.L., Jiang, J.J., Ko, F.C., and J.E. Baker (2012) Diffusive exchange of PAHs across the air-water interface of the Kaohsiung Harbor lagoon, Taiwan. J. Environ. Management, 110, 179-187.
  • Ko, F.C., J.E. Baker, and K.S. Tew (2012) Kinetics of polychlorinated biphenyl partitioning to marine Chrysophyte Isochrysis galbana. Sci. Total Environ., 416, 410-417.
  • Klosterhaus*, S.L., Dries, E. and J.E. Baker (2011) Bioaccumulation kinetics of polybrominated diphenyl ethers from estuarine sediments to the marine polychaete, Nereis virens. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 30(5), 1204-1212.
  • Jiang, J.J, C.L. Lee, M.D. Fang, F.C. Ko, and J.E. Baker (2011) Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polychlorinated biphenyls in sediments of southwest Taiwan: regional characteristics and potential sources. Marine Pollut. Bull., 62, 815-823.
  • Klosterhaus*, S.L. and J.E. Baker (2010) Bioavailability of decabromodiphenyl ether to the marine polychaete Nereis virens., Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 29(4), 860-868.
  • Rowe, C.L., Mitchelmore, C.L. and J.E. Baker (2009) Lack of biological effects of water accommodated fractions of chemically- and physically-dispersed oil on molecular, physiological, and behavioral traits of juvenile snapping turtles following embryonic exposure. Sci. Total Environ., 407(20), 5344-5355.
  • Ashley, J.T.F., M.L. Webster*, R.J. Horwitz, D.J. Velinsky, and J.E. Baker (2009) Polychlorinated biphenyls in sediment and biota from the Delaware River estuary. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadel., 158, 89-105.
  • Kelly, S.M., Eisenreich, K.M., J.E. Baker, and C.L. Rowe (2008) Accumulation and maternal transfer of polychlorinated biphenyls in snapping turtles of the upper Hudson River, New York, USA. Environ. Toxicol. Chem., 27(12), 2565-2574.
  • Fang*, M.D., Ko, F.C., Baker, J.E., and C.L. Lee (2008) Seasonality of diffusive exchange of polychlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene across the air-sea interface of Kaohsiung Harbor, Taiwan. Sci. Total Environ., 407, 548-565.
  • Boynton, W.R., J.D. Hagy, J.C. Cornwell, W.M. Kemp, S.M. Greene, M.S. Owens, J.E. Baker, and R.K. Larsen (2008) Nutrient budgets and management actions in the Patuxent River estuary, Maryland. Estuaries and Coasts, 31(4), 623-651.
  • Fang*, M.D., Hsieh, P.C., Ko, F.C., Baker, J.E., and C.L. Lee (2007) Sources and distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the sediments of Kaoping River and submarine canyon system, Taiwan. Marine Pollut. Bullet., 54(8), 11179-1189.
  • Schneider*, A.R., Porter, E.T., and J.E. Baker (2007) Polychlorinated biphenyl release from resuspended Hudson River sediment. Environ. Sci. Technol., 41(14), 1097-1103.


  • American Chemical Society
  • Society of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
  • American Geophysical Union

Professional Service

  • Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel, 2008-present, Chair 2008-2009, Ex Officio, 2010-present.
  • Board of Advisors, Salish Sea Expeditions, 2010-present.
  • San Francisco Estuary Institute Contaminant Fate Workgroup, 2001-present.

Honors and Awards

  • Conservation Research Award, Seattle Aquarium Society
  • Presidents Award for Excellence in Application of Science, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
  • Outstanding Graduate Advisor, University of Maryland Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Program
  • Guest Scientist, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohshiung, Taiwan
  • Board of Directors, Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, elected term