David A. Baum

David A. Baum

Chair of Botany, Professor of Botany
340 Birge Hall
Ph.D. (1991) Washington University
Plant phylogenetics; conceptual issues in evolution and systematics; origin of life
Baum's Lab


My overarching research goal is to understand how evolution works to generate the remarkable diversity of living organisms around us today. In addition to various theoretical and conceptual interests, I have focused on evolutionary-developmental and molecular phylogenetic research on flowering plants.  Additionally, we have begun a new empirical research program on biopoiesis, the origins of life-like chemcial systems.

At the introductory level I teach in Introductory Biology (Bot/Bio/Zoo 151) and General Botany (Bot 130).  My major upper division teaching includes the graduate, primary literature-based course, Foundations of Evolution (Bot 820) and I commonly contribute to the teaching of Seminar in Plant Systematics and Evolution (Bot 940).  I am passionate about evolutionary educational outreach and especially enjoy working with K-12 teachers.

Selected recent Publications (for the most-updated information consult Google Scholar)

  • Rangan H., Bell, K. L., Baum, D. A., Fowler, R., McConvell, P., Saunders, T., Spronck, S., Kull, C. A., and Murphy, D. J.  2015. New genetic and linguistic analyses show ancient human influence on baobab evolution and distribution in Australia. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0119758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119758.[link]
  • Baum, D. A. and Baum, B. 2015. World in a cell. New Scientist. 3008: 28-29.
  • Baum, D. A. and Baum, B. 2014.  An inside-out origin of the eukaryotic cell.  BMC Biology. 12:76.
  • Carvalho-Sobrinho, J. G., Alverson, W. S., da Mota, A. C., Machado, M. C. and Baum, D. A. 2014. A new deciduous species of Pachira (Malvaceae, Bombacoideae) from a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest in northeastern Brazil. Systematic Botany 39(1): 260-267.
  • Davis, C. C., Schaefer, H., Xi, Z., Baum, D. A., Donoghue, M. J., & Harmon, L. J.  2014. Long-term morphological stasis maintained by a plant–pollinator mutualism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(16): 5914-5919.
  • Baum, D. A. 2013. Developmental causation and the problem of homology. Philosophy and Theory in Biology, 5.
  • Martins, T. R., Berg, J. J., Blinka, S., Rausher, M. D. and Baum, D. A. 2013.  Precise spatio-temporal regulation of the anthocyanin biosynthetic pathway leads to petal spot formation in Clarkia gracilis (Onagraceae).  New Phytologist 197: 958–969. [Commentary: New Phytologist 197: 687–689]
  • Baum, D. A. and Smith, S.D.  2013.  Tree-thinking: An Introduction to Phylogenetic Biology. Roberts & Company.
  • Cacho, N. I.  and Baum, D. A.  2012. The Caribbean slipper spurge Euphorbia tithymaloides, the first example of a ring species in plants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 279: 3377-3383.  [Commentary: Nature 486, 442]
  • Cellinese, N., Baum, D. A., and Mishler, B. D. 2012. Species and phylogenetic nomenclature.  Systematic Biology. 61(5): 885-891.
  • Correa, R. Stanga, J., Larget, B., Roznowski, A., Shu, G., Dilkes, B., and Baum, D. A.  2012.  An assessment of transgenomics as a tool for identifying genes involved in the evolutionary differentiation of closely related plant species. New Phytologist 193: 494–503.