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Michael’s Earth and Environmental Science PhD called "Geochronology & Volcanology of Upper Cenozoic Volcanic Activity in N. Chile" took him on an action-filled journey worthy of Indiana Jones. He started life as an army child moving between London, Hong Kong, Colchester, West Lothian and finally to Heston, in time for him to attend grammar school with a special interest in chemistry. His elder sister, Pauline, ignited a spark in him for a lifetime’s love of Geology which he studied at Oxford University, graduating in 1973. He heard about the OU from Pauline who had been one of the OU’s first undergraduate students whi...lst she ran her home and family, and he answered an advert for a PhD looking at volcanoes in the Andes with Peter Francis at the OU and was awarded the studentship. This was the start of the journey of a lifetime. A military coup in Chile the week he started delayed the project by a few months but with a hand painted "Open University Andean Volcanoes Project" Land Rover as home and transport with donated detergent used as bartering currency, Michael, Peter and lecturer Richard Thorpe set off to traverse rough terrain and freezing temperatures with no thought to health and safety. The military in Chile were sometimes suspicious of them and often marked out fake minefields to deter Bolivian Guerillas. Michael describes a surreal experience of the Chilean military driving through a "minefield" to tell the party off for driving through a "minefield"! After graduating with his PhD, Michael continued his adventurous life with a dangerous job on the Iranian/Pakistan border doing geological mapping. After making it home safely, Michael started on a project that set the direction of the rest of his career, doing a post doctorate at the OU to investigate the use of satellite imagery in geology. He then worked in this field in Australia for a mining company and in 1986 set up as in independent consultant in the field of satellite imagery. He looks back with affection at the time he had doing his PhD and post-doctorate at the OU as an era that will never be repeated, as modern safety policies would now prevent much of what he was able to do at the time.
Metadata describing this interview
Title: Dr Michael Baker Interview
Interviewer: Elizabeth Currie
Abstract: Michael Baker discusses his childhood and education, his undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, applying for a studentship with the OU, and his PhD research in Chile and Bolivia. Baker talks about working in ...
Date of interview: 27-04-21
Interview duration: 00:31:44
Recording type: Video interview
Rights statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: Contact the OU Archive prior to any re-use. Contact
Available to public: no