BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 29, 2008 – James C. Baker of Blacksburg, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, was conferred the "professor emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during the board's quarterly meeting on Aug. 25.
The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who have given exemplary service to the university who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1978, Baker was the project leader and coordinator of the Virginia Tech Soil Survey program from 1978 to 2002. In that role, he worked cooperatively with state and federal agencies as part of the national Cooperative Soil Survey, and guided 25 soil scientists and technicians in the mapping of soils of Virginia resulting in the release of 32 published soil surveys covering more than 8 million acres of land.
For the last 14 years, Baker served as the leader of the Soil Science Assistance Program which serves the Virginia Department of Health in training and supporting agency members and environmental health specialists across the state. As a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist, Baker conducted extensive training of professional soil scientists, certified crop advisors and other natural resource practitioners and was instrumental in developing the Virginia Agronomic Land Use Evaluation System.
Baker contributed to the study of mineral equilibrium and alterations in soils, soil characterization and variability, and the relationships between landscape and soil formation and saprolite. He was active in the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America.
He received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.