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Baker Buzz

News and Events from the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

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Virtual Events

Savannah with giraffes

Sensors and Scale in Southern Africa: An Analysis of Vegetation Health, Protection, and Parks

Dr. Hannah Herrero will describe how her work utilizes different remote sensing technologies to create accurate ways to quantify change over time in vegetation and identify drivers of change as part of the Center's Energy & Environment Forum. In her lecture, "Sensors and Scales in Southern Africa: An Analysis of Vegetation Health, Protection, and Parks" Herrero will discuss the vastness of her work which, on a regional scale, considers 79 national parks across southern African savannas as well as the more concentrated portions of her research which zooms into a unique national park in Mozambique for further examination. This virtual event will take place on Thursday, September 3rd, from 1:00-2:30 pm. The Zoom meeting link can be found here
Earth with half growing trees and half desert and dead trees

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate

As part of the Center's Energy & Environment Forum, Dr. Andrew Hoffman will discuss what causes people to reject or accept the scientific consensus on climate change. Using a synthesis of evidence from sociology, psychology, and political science, Hoffman examines the opposing cultural lenses through which science is interpreted and extracts lessons for opening a dialogue to overcome resistance. This virtual event will take place on Thursday, September 17th, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm. The Zoom meeting link can be found here. 
fallen trees in the woods

From Observation to Interface: How Satellites and Big Data Can Help us Understand the Effects of Land Conservation Decisions

As part of the Center's Energy & Environment Forum Dr. Christoph Nolte will present a lecture titled: "From Observation to Interface: How Satellites and Big Data Can Help Us Understand the Effects of Land Conservation Decisions." He will discuss how satellites are beginning to transform the ways conservation decision makers track the cost effectiveness of their investments in various areas around the world. Nolte will also highlight the technological advances that make his work possible. This virtual event will take place on Thursday, September 24th, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. The Zoom meeting link can be found here. 

Small boat with Somali Pirates

Leadership & Governance Program Sponsoring East Tennessee PBS Election Coverage

The Center's Leadership & Governance Program is sponsoring all election coverage by East Tennessee PBS this fall in lieu of hosting in-person election events this fall. Produced by PBS, Howard Baker's message of civility began broadcasting across East Tennessee in early August and will continue to air until November; the thirty second spot can be viewed here. Another variation, produced for the Democratic and Republican Conventions can be viewed here. Check out the PBS program schedule so that you can tune in this election season to stay informed and hear the reassuring words of Sen. Howard Baker. 


The Coronavirus-19 Outbreak Response Experts (CORE-19) he team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a network of researchers in public health, economics, public policy, agriculture, veterinary medicine, and other disciplines who seek to provide timely information for the public and policymakers on pressing questions regarding the global pandemic. Researchers at the Center are working closely with the CORE-19 team to create a series of policy briefs forecasting the health and economic impacts of the virus. For up-to-date, well-researched information on COVID-19 visit
Graphs on a screen

Policy Brief: Understanding COVID-19 Death Reporting and Statistics

With misinformation abound, this policy brief provides a clear and concise guide to understanding death reporting as it relates to COVID-19 and other similar illnesses. 
A group of people wandering around in a room

Policy Brief: Predictive Modeling 

This brief uses compartmental modeling techniques and data from the Knox County Health Department to forecast outbreak dynamics three months into the future. In addition, it investigates the efficacy of social distancing policy, forecasting additional peaks for the outbreak if social distancing mandates are relaxed.
A group of people wandering around in a room

Policy Brief: Herd Immunity in Tennessee

This policy brief examines the scientific literature surrounding herd immunity and considers the costs and benefits associated with establishing herd immunity in Tennessee.
TN pulse survey logo

TN Pulse Survey: Consumer Sentiment Data collected for the TN Economic Recovery Group

The Tennessee Pulse is a cooperative effort of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group, the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (SWORPS), which is designed to capture the attitudes and behaviors of Tennesseans toward COVID-19 and the re-opening of the economy. The survey enables segmentation across a grouping of the state’s largest metropolitan counties (Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby and Sullivan) and the remaining 89 counties of the state, as well as age, gender, and race. Results will be collected and published throughout the summer. 
Wave 1 of the survey was administered between May 18 and May 24, 2020. See the results here.
Wave 2 of the survey was administered between June 1 and May 6, 2020. See the results here.
Wave 3 of the survey was administered between June 15 and June 21, 2020. See the results here.
Wave 4 of the survey was administered between July 17 and July 26, 2020. See the results here.
Time Series results of the survey are also available. See the results here.
More information on the TN Pulse Survey and access to future results, visit

Vols Vote 2020

Globe with images of rebel fighters overlayed

Vols Vote Coalition shares comprehensive voting guide University Wide

The Vols Vote Coalition is an energetic group of dedicated individuals and organizations at the University who want to ensure the campus has access to non-partisan information on voting. Baker Center faculty and students have been instrumental in putting together a Canvas Voting Module and an in-depth voting guide complete with useful resources to help with the voting process from registration to researching candidates.
Key Election Dates: 
  • Last Day to Register to Vote in Tennessee: Oct. 5th
  • Early Voting in Tennessee: Oct. 14th to 29th
  • Last Day to Request an Absentee Ballot in Tennessee: Oct. 27th 
  • Election Day: Nov. 3rd
Useful Links:

Additional Information: 

Want to join the coalition? Have questions, comments, or suggestions?

Research and Teaching

Globe with images of rebel fighters overlayed

Update: Center's Global Security Fellows lead a collaborative research project employing a large student support staff 

Dr. Krista Wiegand, Director of the Center's Global Security Program, leads a team of undergraduate research assistants collecting data on grievances and demands of rebel groups around the world, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).The project began in 2018 with a small team of four Baker Center students led by Wiegand and Assistant Professor at the Air War College Dr. Eric Keels. Since then, the research team has grown to eleven research assistants and gained another collaborator, an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (ULM) Dr. Minnie Joo. Over the past two years, these professors have trained a total of twenty undergraduate students in data collection. Seven of the current research assistants are based at the Center, three at ULM, and one, a Baker Center and University of Tennessee graduate continues to work on the project as a graduate student at Harvard University. The current research team is working on coding information about rebel groups in Asia, the last region for data to be collected. As the project comes to a close, the Center would like to express gratitude to all student research assistants and especially, to thank departing seniors, Hancen Sale, Jay Hearn, and Jackson Broadwell. 
super computer

Baker Center Students Selected as XSEDE EMPOWER Fellows

Two Baker Center students, Shelby Kemp and Eleigha Wrancher, have been selected for the NSF-supported fellowships for the fall semester. Dr. Deborah Penchoff, director of the Scientific Fellows Program at the Institute for Nuclear Security, has  been selected as a mentor for the program. XSEDE EMPOWER (Expert Mentoring Producing Opportunities for Work, Education, and Research) is a program within the NSF-supported Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment. This program provides undergraduate students with opportunities to engage in activities involving computational and/or data analytics research and education in various fields of study, networking, system maintenance and support, and visualization, amongst others. Both Kemp and Wrancher are undergraduates at the University and have been working under Penchoff at the Baker Center since the summer of 2019. Kemp's research will focus on rare earth elements and actinides applications to needs in national security. Wrancher's research will focus on complexation of lanthanides and actinides applications to needs in nuclear and radiochemistry

Get involved with the Baker Center!

Students walking with Senator Lamar Alexander

Get Involved with the Baker Center! 

The Center is a home for civic engagement for students in all disciplines and at all levels. Through programs, events and lectures, and helpful faculty and staff, the Center aims to engage the community on the topics of Global Security, Leadership & Governance, and Energy & Environment. Learn more at

Here are some ways you can get involved:

Contact Us
Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy
1640 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865-974-0931
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