TailingsdamStawellGoldMineVictoriaOzAlan Baker’s career has centred on the interactions of plants with soils and sediments contaminated with heavy metals, either naturally through mineralization, or as a result of anthropogenic pollution. Long-term research has focused on ecological and physiological aspects of heavy metal tolerance, toxicity and uptake in plants, and in particular the mechanisms of metal accumulation and tolerance in temperate and tropical species of metallophytes.

Major themes are the ecology of nickel-hyperaccumulating species from ultramafic soils, zinc and cadmium hyperaccumulation, evolution and development of metallophyte floras. These lines of research led Alan into a number of applied fields including geobotanical and biogeochemical techniques for mineral exploration and reconnaissance, revegetation of toxic metalliferous wastes, pollution biomonitoring, problems of environmental health arising from trace element contamination of the environment, removal and stabilization of metals and metalloids from contaminated land and sediments using biological approaches (bio- and phytoremediation), phytomining and development of strategies for the conservation of biodiversity at mining sites.

In addition to extensive work experience in Europe, Australasia and the USA, he has worked in many developing countries including The Philippines, Thailand, New Caledonia, Sri Lanka, India, PR China, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaïre), Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile and Mexico. In October 2008 Professor Baker was awarded the Milton Gordon Award from the International Phytotechnology Society for 'a distinguished career in teaching, research and applications of phytoremediation.'

Professor Baker serves on the Advisory Panel of the IUCN-ICMM Post-Mining Alliance, based at the Eden Project (UK).