Ahwatukee Foothills resident Dale Baker has been recognized for her work in the field of science, becoming this year’s recipient of the most prestigious award in the field of science education from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST).
An instructor at Arizona State University since 1989, Baker shows gratitude to her peers on being awarded the 2013 Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award, and will be traveling to Puerto Rico in April to accept her honor.
The professor’s focus is science education consisting of teaching and learning science, and she is particularly concerned with equity issues.
Baker also has a background in biology, more specifically in the area of Neurophysiology.
“It’s very gratifying to be able to have the approval from my peers,” Baker said. “In academics, there’s nothing more important than having your work recognized, of having an impact and making contributions to the field.”
There have been 36 recipients of this award and through the years only six have been women. Baker will be the seventh woman to receive the award.
“It does feel good to be the seventh woman to receive this award, but at the same time it doesn’t feel so good because it should be 50/50,” she said.
Before starting her career at ASU, Baker was a professor at the University of Utah for nine years, and received her education at Rutgers University.
Though Baker is being acknowledged for her hard work, she has been faced with her fair share of adversity throughout her years.
She originally wanted to sign up for the Air Force Academy, but during that time the U.S. Air Force did not allow women applicants.
She then went for an interview for college admission to the University of Pennsylvania, and the interviewers were a bit startled to see that she was a woman. They blatantly told her they didn’t want to waste space in their program because she was a woman likely to get married and go away.
But through the down talk and ridicule, Baker was determined to prove everyone wrong by finishing her undergraduate program in three years, instead of four.
Being that she dealt with such adversity, Baker gives guidance toward young women who are trying to move forward with their careers and research.
“I provide them with opportunities to do good research to work alongside me and my research projects, and also give them support through research assistance on grants that I have,” Baker said. “I give them as many opportunities to build a resume that make them highly competitive in the job market, and when they are good I make sure to write them good recommendation letters.”
By winning this award, Baker feels that her hard work throughout her 33-year career has been something worthwhile.
“This award means that I have spent my life doing meaningful, impactful work that has a greater meaning on creating good in the world,” Baker said. “You don’t know when you are getting closer to the end of your career if your work amounted to anything, and I feel like this tells me it has.”
• Daniel Ochoa is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.