Samuel Barker

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Samuel Booth Barker (born March 3, 1912 in Montclair, New Jersey; died September 3, 2002 in Birmingham) was a physiologist and the first dean of the UAB Graduate School, serving from 1970 to 1978.

Barker was the son of Harry and Marion Booth Barker of New Jersey. He earned his bachelor of science at the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1932 and went on to attend Yale University. He completed his Ph.D. in physiology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York 1936. On July 31, 1934 he married the former Justine Rogers.

Barker practiced at the Cornell University Medical Center in New York City. In 1941 he was offered a fellowship at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. He was given a faculty position at the University of Iowa in Iowa City in 1944, and then came to Birmingham in 1952 to teach pharmacology at the Medical College of Alabama. As a researcher, Barker published 19 papers, with special interest in the metabolic and cardiac-related secondary actions of thyroid hormones. He served one term as president of the American Thyroid Association.

After a decade in Birmingham he returned to his alma mater for three years. He was invited back to serve as director of graduate studies at the newly-established University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1965. In 1970 he was appointed dean of the newly-created UAB Graduate School. While in that role he also served as an associate dean of the University of Alabama School of Medicine and the UAB School of Dentistry. He was honored as a "Distinguished Professor" in 1976.

Barker retired in 1978. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science by UAB in 1979 and given the UAB President's Medal in 1991. The Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies was created in his honor in 1995.

Outside of academics, Barker and his wife were noted patrons of the arts. Barker performed in the cast of several Town & Gown Theater productions in 1956 while Justine worked as a member of the prop crew. In the early 1970s Barker commissioned the first piece of outdoor sculpture for the UAB campus. He later instituted a competition which brought renowned sculptors to UAB, and purchased selected pieces for permanent display.

Barker served on the boards of the Birmingham Creative Dance Company, the Birmingham Festival of Arts, the Birmingham Festival Theatre, and Birmingham Symphony Association. He was a charter member of the Greater Birmingham Arts Alliance and was president of that organization from 1971 to 1974. He also chaired the Fine Arts Committee at Birmingham-Southern College.


  • Brown, J. H. U. & S. B. Barker (1962) Basic Endocrinology for Students of Biology and Medicine. Davis.
  • Cantrell, C. H.; P. C. Bailey & S. B. Barker, eds (1963) A History of the Alabama Academy of Science. Alabama Academy of Science.