TitleProfessor Emeritus of Dairy Science
Mailing AddressUniversity Station
Brookings, SD 57007
EducationPh.D. Food Science, 1982: University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
M.S. Dairy Manufacturing, 1979: University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
B.S.A. Dairy Production, 1977: University of Georgia, Athens, GA.
A.A.S. Animal Science, 1975: State University of New York, Farmingdale, NY.
Academic InterestsDr. Robert J. Baer joined the Dairy Science Department in November 1982 as Assistant Professor. Over the course of his 28-year career he rose to the rank of Professor by distinguishing himself in teaching and research in Dairy Science and providing service to the department, the university and his profession. He cared deeply about his students, his colleagues and about the department. Dr. Baer developed a research program in the areas of dairy products processing with an emphasis on dairy chemistry and frozen desserts. This work supported by funds from industry and the MN-SD Dairy Foods Research Center and involving 19 funded research projects led to 43 refereed publications, 45 abstracts, 26 trade and extension publications, 1 patent, 1 patent pending and 3 book chapters. He had mentored 14 graduate students that were part of much of his research work. Dr. Baer’s work encompassed an integration of the science of milk production and milk processing. Through this work he was able to clearly show the impact of dairy cattle feeding on milk production, and milk product quality. Specifically, this collaborative work led to the development of softer butter by altering the diet of dairy cattle, the enhancement of conjugated linoleic acid in milk products, leading to healthier dairy products, and the conclusion that the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone in the management of dairy cattle had no impact on milk flavor or quality. One of his collaborative research project led to patents in the Australia and New Zealand.
Dr. Baer has been nationally recognized for his work on the sensory attributes of milk and milk products. Most notably, he worked and published in the area of oxidation of milk and milk products and on the texture of ice cream. This work requires an understanding of the basic sciences and its application to product processing. This published work has been applied by industry because of its practical value. Dr. Baer and another faculty member in the Dairy Science Department had developed a new method for reversing oxidation in milk. Their patent entitled Method for Reversing an Oxidized Off-Flavor from Milk was published July of 2014 has the potential for a significant impact on the fluid milk industry for eliminating this wide-spread flavor defect.
Dr. Baer taught 4 classes in Dairy Science and was best known for his Dairy Products Judging class. In 1988 Dr. Baer was a young faculty member who had just been promoted to Associate Professor. Another Professor in the Dairy Science Department, Shirley Seas, passed away unexpectedly and left a huge vacancy in the dairy products judging program of which Shirley was coach. Dr. Baer volunteered to serve as coach immediately after Shirley passed away and within a year coached a team that won national championship. Under his tutelage the SDSU team has won the national championship 9 times which is more than the accomplishment of any past dairy products judging coach at SDSU. In addition, he led his team to championship for three years in row from 2008 to 2010.
Dr. Baer routinely served as advisor to 12 – 15 students per semester and participated in departmental student recruitment efforts, such as Senior Day, TGIF, Flandreau Indian School Success Academy and other events.
In recognition of his excellence and accomplishments in teaching and research Dr. Baer has been the recipient of at least three local and national awards, and he has been named coach of the year at the collegiate dairy products evaluation contest 9 times.
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Department of Dairy and Food Science