Richard Baldwin, M.A., Lab Manager

Richard Baldwin is lab manager with the Department of Anthropology.

Happy 20th, Richard!

Richard with cake

Richard is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the Department of Anthropology this year. Everyone got together to celebrate him and tell stories, which included stranded gorillas, phantom terrariums and melting corpses. He was lured to the surprise event with the false promise of a talk on the excavation of a large Atari game cache in New Mexico; in the end his only regret was that this part was a ruse.

In addition to managing the labs, he has worked with the university radio station KZSC for many years, extensively contributing toward diversity and inclusion. He also works with the Monterey Bay Archaelogical Archives and the Archaeological Research Center.

“Our Anthropology labs are a great space for students to try out lab work and see what there is that inspires or repulses them. It’s intended to familiarize students with the various facets of injury and illness prevention, environmental control, and sustainable lab practices.” These words were spoken by Richard Baldwin, M.A., the lab manager of the Anthropology labs at UC Santa Cruz. As a lab manager, Richard takes on a variety of roles, with designing and implementing lab safety programs, training lab personnel, dealing with dermestid “flesh eating” beetles, and adding new skeletons to the osteology collection, only highlighting a few of those responsibilities.

Richard ensures that any student who steps into any of the Anthropology labs has an interactive experience. Students typically test the waters through his ANTH 97 (Lab Safety Practicum) course taught every quarter. Within this course, students gain three to five hours of hands-on activities in the labs each week, supplemented with weekly meetings and tutorials. They gain skills in dissections, cataloging, photography, microscopy, etc., and work alongside Richard as well as his lab assistants. Through this course, Richard encourages “undergraduates from all majors to learn about the “Culture of Safety” and prepare themselves for future lab-based projects or research activities,” which are skills that can be used outside of the lab as well.

“Wherever students go from here, they are prepared to contribute in a positive way to a culture of safety in their workplace.”
-Richard Baldwin, M.A.

One of the perks of the Anthropology labs is the fact that they are not solely designated for students pursuing the Anthropology major or minor. Richard mentors students from a variety of majors, helping them discover new passions, or delve deeper into already present interests. Richard has witnessed “students bound and determined to become surgeons decide after a one hour dissection tutorial that the work is just not for them!” while other students “discover amazing talents for forensic and pathology careers.” The overarching goal that Richard strives to spread to his students are the technical skills that “can prepare students as they pursue graduate research in genetics, archaeology, anatomy, etc.”

Richard's role and work within the Anthropology Department has long term positive outcomes. His work in designing and implementing safety programs, keeping up to date checks on the lab facilities, scheduling lab-based classes, etc. allows students to gain up close, interactive experiences that spark or continue interests that can then be further pursued. Richard has a positive, lasting influence on his students, as he teaches lab-based science work and safety skills within the lab, that have purpose outside the lab in other environments. Overall, Richard's overarching message to students is that, “wherever students go from here, they are prepared to contribute in a positive way to a culture of safety in their workplace.”

By Sarah Dairiki.  Sarah is a peer adviser with the Department of Anthropology.