Field science and exploration were the main motivators for Kate to study Geography. Kate Baker holds a BSc in Geography from University College London and an MSc in Aquatic Resource Management from King’s College London, one of King’s Water’s four taught postgraduate programme offerings. Before embarking on her PhD, Kate won a European Commission’s Leonardo Mobility Award to fund a placement with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research undertaking applied ecological research in the remote mountains of Børgefjell National Park. Prior to this Kate lived in Siberia for six months funded by the European Voluntary Service (EVS) to work with The Great Baikal Trail, a youth-led environmental organization helping to conserve the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. These experiences made Kate realise that her enjoyment of being in the natural environment and conducting field research could become a career.
Today, Kate is a Natural Environment Research Council-funded PhD student in the Department of Geography under the supervision of Michael Chadwick and Nick Clifford. Kate’s PhD focuses on investigating patterns of habitat use by benthic macroinvertebrates (such as dragonflies, stoneflies and mayflies) in the tropical streams of Ulu Temburong National Park in northern Borneo. This area is one of the few places in Borneo where intact tropical rainforests and free-flowing rivers persist. Research conducted in these streams will allow for a better understanding of how tropical stream ecosystems function while also providing benchmark for restoration of degraded streams. Understanding how the spatial structure of habitats within the river can increase ecological diversity and ecosystem functioning is important in terms of successful rehabilitation and can inform future management decisions. Here is a short video that visualizes Kate’s work with photos and videos of the creatures she is studying: https://tinyurl.com/tropicalwaterfalls
When Kate is not wading through streams or typing up her PhD results, she can be found teaching at King’s or LSE. Passionate about science communication, Kate is a co-founder of Intrepid Explorers, a platform to create and facilitate a space for researchers to communicate life as a field researcher. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and has been a Jungle Panel member at RGS’s Explore event.
Most recently, Kate co-instigated a team from King’s to win the Ralph Brown Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Grant. She will return to Borneo in the summer of 2016 to explore the fauna and flora of the upper reaches of her study streams. This is an exciting trip including her supervisor Mike Chadwick as well as Dr Thomas Smith and students from the Department of Geography.
Kate’s three Water Words are: