Robert Baxter studied Botany at the University of Manchester (1982-85). Thereafter he undertook a PhD (1985-88) in Manchester ("Responses of the moss Sphagnum cuspidatum to acid deposition") under the supervision of JA Lee and MJ Emes.
Following his PhD training, Dr Baxter spent 18 months working as a regional coordinator within the ACME (Applications of Computing to Manufacturing Engineering) Directorate of the then Science and Engineering Research Council.
In 1990, Baxter joined the research groups of Prof. John Farrar (University of Wales, Bangor) and Prof. Trevor Ashenden (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor Research Unit) as one of two postdoctoral fellowships awarded to the newly established joint University/CEH partnership in Bangor. Here, Baxter studied the impacts of altered concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and soil nutrient conditions upon photosynthetic metabolism and post-photosynthetic carbon partitioning in native upland and montane grassland species. During this period, Baxter also worked with CEH upon an EU-funded Framework 3 project ("An investigation of the effects of increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and changing climate on natural and managed grassland communities in Europe using open-top and closed chambers"; Contract: EPOC-CT90-0022), coordinated by Prof. MB Jones, School of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin, Eire.
In 1993, Baxter continued his work in this field as a postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College, Dublin. A year later, he was appointed as lecturer in Ecology in the then Department of Biological Sciences (now School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences) at the University of Durham. In 2002 he was promoted to a Senior Lectureship in Ecology and to Reader in 2015; a post he holds at the present time.