BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Baker Perry ’98, professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Geography and Planning, is the great-great-grandson of D.D. Dougherty, who along with his brother founded Watauga Academy in 1899, now Appalachian State University. Mountains, research and education are part of his heritage, paving the path that led to his involvement and research interests in the tropical Andes and Appalachian Mountains.
His work in studying precipitation, snow and ice, tropical glacier–climate interactions and climate change helps affected populations plan for the future.
Perry spent his childhood living in Bolivia, the son of rural health care professionals. “It was a formative place to live as a kid,” Perry said. “Our home was at 13,000 feet in elevation, and we’d take family outings up to 18,000 feet, next to glaciers. That’s where my fascination began. Living there also gave me a heart for the people.”
Perry earned a B.A. in comparative area studies from Duke University, spending two semesters studying abroad in Bolivia. He came to Appalachian for his master’s degree and was able to go back to Bolivia to do research on access to health care in the Andes Mountains.
For his Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill, Perry focused his research on snowfall patterns in the Appalachians.
Perry’s work has been published in dozens of scientific journals and conference proceedings, and has yielded grants totaling almost $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and various other organizations.
“Baker Perry is one of a handful of scientists working in the South American Andes who successfully conducts fieldwork in the extraordinarily difficult conditions found on mountaintops above 18,000 feet,” said Dr. Anton Seimon, research assistant professor at Appalachian and colleague of Perry.
“He uses these twice-a-year expeditions to train and educate students, collect valuable data that would otherwise be unobtainable, and build strong and enduring partnerships with scientists and institutions both in the U.S. and abroad in Peru and Bolivia. His efforts have become the cornerstone of a growing program linking Appalachian State to universities in the Andes.”
In addition to his research, Perry teaches undergraduates and is program director of Appalachian’s master’s degree in geography.
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About the Department of Geography and Planning
The Department of Geography and Planning promotes the understanding of the spatial dimensions of human behavior within the physical and cultural systems of the earth, and the role of planning in achieving improvement in those systems. The department offers degrees in geography and in community and regional planning. Learn more at https://geo.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.