David Baum

David Baum

David Baum

Discovery Fellow, Professor, Botany, Systems Biology

Years Active



  • B.A., Botany, Oxford University
  • Ph.D., Evolutionary and Population Biology, Washington University in St. Louis

Research Description

The main question driving David Baum’s research is How do novel phenotypes arise in evolution? To try and answer this question, his lab studies diverse plant groups, using methods of historical inference (molecular phylogenetics) and developmental biology (“evo-devo”). They are also engaged in research on the origin of life-like chemistry.

David has worked on several challenging conceptual and theoretical issues in evolutionary biology, including the units of biological classification, the nature of traits and homology, and method for elucidating the causes of genealogical discordance. And, he has an ongoing interest in the teaching of evolution.


  •   2015 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, UW-Madison
  •    2010 Fellow of the University of Wisconsin Teaching Academy
  •    2009-2014 Letters and Sciences Hamel Family Faculty Fellowship, UW-Madison
  •    2008 Christiansen Fellowship, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford
  •    2007-2008 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
  •    2006 Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  •    1999-2004 National Science Foundation, Career Award.
  •    1996-1999 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Young Investigator Award in Molecular Evolution

Selected Publications

  • Baum, D. A. 2013. Developmental causation and the problem of homology. Philosophy and Theory in Biology (In press)
  • 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. 2012. Tree-thinking: An Introduction to Phylogenetic Biology. Roberts & Company. (http://www.roberts-publishers.com/authors/smith-stacey/tree-thinking-an-introduction-to-phylogenetic-biology.html).
  • 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]
  • 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.
  • Liu, N., Sliwinski M.K., Correa, R. and Baum, D. A. 2011. Possible contributions of TERMINAL FLOWER 1 to the evolution of rosette flowering in Leavenworthia (Brassicaceae). New Phytologist 189:616-28.
  • Baum, D. A. 2009. Species as ranked taxa. Systematic Biology 58:74–86.
  • Baum, D. A. and Offner, S. 2008. Phylogenies and tree thinking. American Biology Teacher 70: 222-229.