Biologist named first Papaioanou Professor of Biological Sciences

Pamela Baker '70

Bates College has named Pamela Baker, a biology professor known for her research into periodontal disease, as the college’s first Helen A. Papaioanou Professor of Biological Sciences.

This endowed professorship honors Dr. Papaioanou, of Grosse Pointe City, Mich. A member of the Bates class of 1949 and a trustee emerita, Papaioanou is a longtime allergy, asthma and immunology specialist in the Detroit area. The Papaioanou chair was established with a gift from Ralph Perry, class of 1951, and his wife, Mary Louise Seldenfleur, of Orrs Island.

Helen A. Papaioanou '49.

“It is a real honor to be chosen for a distinction that pays tribute to such a wonderful person as Helen, who embodies the best of our mission at Bates,” says Baker. “She has had a distinguished career as a doctor, and is a warm and generous person who has always taken the time to get to know faculty and staff and support their work.”

A member of the Bates class of 1970, Baker began teaching at Bates in 1989. Her teaching focuses on cell and molecular biology and immunology. As a researcher, Baker has developed a laboratory model for periodontal disease that she has used to demonstrate the roles of genetics and the immune system in bone loss in the jaw. This research is widely recognized in the field of immunology and has earned major grant support from the National Institutes of Health. In addition, Baker has involved many student research collaborators in this work.

“Pam Baker possesses an incredible intellectual generosity, devoting her time and considerable talents to her students, involving them in her research and helping them make their own scientific discoveries,” says Jill Reich, dean of faculty. “And beyond all that, she herself is an indefatigable learner. Her curiosity and openness to new ideas make her a model for students and fellow faculty alike.”

Baker recently received a Phillips Faculty Fellowship at Bates to support her sabbatical research during the next academic year, and a Fulbright Fellowship to support her work during the sabbatical on the development of research-based undergraduate biochemistry curricula with faculty at Maulana Azad Dental College in Delhi, India.

Baker has been a creative and effective faculty leader. She was instrumental in establishing the college’s Program in Biological Chemistry and has served as chair of the Division of the Natural Sciences and, most recently, as associate dean of the faculty.

Baker and her husband, David Baker, have lived in Auburn for eight years. A member of the Bates class of 1970, David Baker is an associate at Willow Run Dental Associates, Auburn, and teaches in the dental hygiene program at the University of New England. Their daughter, Kate, is finishing a master’s degree at Rochester Institute of Technology in a combined study of graphic design and secondary special education.

Pamela Baker earned a bachelor of science degree in biology at Bates and a like degree in zoology at the University of Wales at Swansea. She received her master’s degree and doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

A pediatrician and educator, Helen Papaioanou served as a Bates trustee from 1965 until 1999. A biology major at Bates, she received her medical degree from Boston University and a master’s of science from the University of Michigan.

She is credited with leading the modernization of the Bates health center in the 1970s, and in the 1990s she chaired the college’s $59 million fund-raising campaign and was the trustee leader of fund raising for construction of Pettengill Hall. Bates awarded Papaioanou an honorary doctor of science degree in 1997 and the Benjamin E. Mays Medal, the college’s highest alumni award, in 2003.

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