Blog Post

In Memoriam: Karen Bakker

We are profoundly saddened to learn of the passing of Karen Bakker, PhD, from the University of British Columbia. An accomplished scholar, award-winning author, generous colleague, and treasured friend, Dr. Bakker was a member of the CCA Scientific Advisory Committee from 2018 – 2021, helping to ensure the quality of more than 10 CCA assessments, including MAID (2018), Integrated Natural Resources Management (2019), When Antibiotics Fail (2019), and Powering Discovery (2021). In addition to her scientific expertise, Karen was strong voice for furthering equity, diversity, and inclusion at CCA.

Karen Bakker was born in Montréal, Quebec and completed her undergraduate studies at McMaster University, graduating in 1995 with a dual BA/B.Sc. She continued her education at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where she obtained her D.Phil. in 1999 at Oxford University’s School of Geography and Environment. Following three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford, she began her academic career as an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, where she remained for 21 years.

Her accomplishments are numerous: Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study 2022-3 at Harvard University; recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship 2022; SSHRC Connection Award and Trudeau Fellowship in 2017; Stanford University Annenberg Fellow in Communication, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars.

Dr. Bakker also founded the Program on Water Governance at UBC, which conducts cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on water sustainability, and led the Smart Earth Project, designed to use digital technologies to address some of the most pressing challenges of the Anthropocene. She was the author of more than 100 academic publications and seven books. In April 2023 she shared her passion and knowledge in a TED Talk about how artificial intelligence has translated the incredible complexity of nature’s soundtrack.

We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends and her many colleagues around the globe. For more on Dr. Bakker’s tremendous legacy, see UBC’s Remembering Dr. Karen Bakker.