Ian Baker Awarded Sherman Fairchild Professorship in Engineering

January 30, 2009

CONTACT: Catharine Lamm
603/646-3943

Ian Baker
Ian Baker

Ian Baker has been appointed Dartmouth's next Sherman Fairchild Professor of Engineering. The Fairchild Chair was established in 1980 with a gift from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. The Professorship recognizes a senior faculty member in engineering who has achieved a high level of professional stature and a distinguished record in research, scholarship, and teaching and mentoring of graduate students, as well as service to Thayer School.

Baker obtained both his B.A. and D. Phil. in metallurgy and science of materials from Oxford University. He joined the Thayer School faculty in 1982 and has served as both Chair of the Engineering Sciences Department and Director of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs, and currently serves as the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He is a Fellow of both ASM International and The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. Baker is a Chartered Engineer (U.K.), and is listed in the ISI citation index of highly-cited Materials Scientists. Recently, he became the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Materials Characterization.

"I chose the field of materials science because I liked physics, chemistry, and math, and it was a good way to combine all three," said Professor Baker. "Now, I investigate the relationship between properties and microstructure, using electron microscopy to reveal what's happening at smaller and smaller scales."

Baker's research focuses on both metals and ice. His most recent initiative involves the development of iron nanoparticles for cancer treatment, either for localized magnetic hyperthermia or as a thermal trigger for drugs delivered in vesicles. Additional ongoing projects in metals research include developing a new series of high-strength magnetic materials. Magnets that work and stay strong at high temperatures have many applications such as for power-generation systems. "But there is often a trade-off between strength and magnetism," said Baker. "To understand why, we're looking closely at microstructure."

As for studying ice, Baker is analyzing ice core specimens from Greenland and Antarctica. "Our ultimate goal is to be able to completely characterize an ice core specimen," said Baker. "In particular, understanding the nature and location of impurities in these specimens can help explain both the electrical and mechanical properties of ice. We are just now developing the techniques to do that at really fine scales and in three dimensions."

The Sherman Fairchild Foundation was established in 1955 by Sherman Fairchild, a pioneer in the fields of photography, aviation, and sound engineering. He was the founder of Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation and Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation.

Previous Fairchild Professors were John Strohbehn as the inaugural holder of the chair from 1983 to 1987, and Graham Wallis who held the chair from 1987 until 2008.