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Baker Buzz

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

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Research & Engagement


Baker Center Seeks Partnerships with Universities in Japan and South Korea

Global Security Director Dr. Krista Wiegandas part of a UT delegation led by the Center for Global Engagement (CGE), recently visited universities in Japan and South Korea.  
The delegation included Vice Provost Gretchen Neisler, Director of the Office of Asia Engagement Rachel Rui, and chair of the Japanese Studies ProgramDr. Noriko Horiguchi, and in Japan, they visited seven universities all over the country, from Osaka to Hokkaido, in a single week. At every stop, Dr. Wiegand discussed the Baker Center and Sen. Baker's service as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.
All audiences were very familiar with the Ambassador's name and had a positive impression of him even today - and that has carried over to the Baker Center too. Several schools were interested in hosting a potential study abroad program. Waseda University in Tokyo is particularly interested in partnering with the Center for faculty exchanges, research collaboration and other initiatives. 
In South Korea, Dr. Wiegand, joined by Dr. Sojeong Lee and Dr. Wonjae Hwang, both Global Security Fellows at the Baker Center, traveled to Jeju Island for a joint research workshop and a signing ceremony for an unofficial memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Center and Jeju Peace Institute (JPI). That partnership will include future research collaboration between scholars at the Baker Center and JPI. The delegation plans to return to Jeju Island in the fall for another workshop.
The delegation was then hosted by Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies (YINKS) at Yonsei University in Seoul. A second signing ceremony took place with an unofficial MOU for a research collaboration partnership and joint workshops between YINKS and the Center. The UT delegation presented a lecture about academic journal publishing to faculty and students from universities across Seoul. Dr. Wiegand also participated in university visits coordinated through CGE with Rachel Rui and Dr. Moonhee Cho, associate professor in the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations.

Appalachian Regional Commission

Earlier this month, ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin and Executive Director Brandon McBride traveled to South Carolina with Program Manager Caroline Griffin and the South Carolina Department of Commerce to discover how ARC investments are advancing economic development in the state.
They also visited with the Appalachian Leadership Institute fellows, who were in South Carolina discussing how to build community leaders and capacity through the Institute, facilitated by the Center's Leadership & Governance Program.
Pickens County Administrator Ken Roper shared his enjoyment meeting with the ARC group, "I am encouraged and invigorated after this week in Anderson, South Carolina with the Appalachian Leadership Institute. I enjoyed the numerous formal and informal conversations on building a community’s leadership capacity, as well as our overarching small group workshop led by Dr. Katie Cahill."
group pic

Energy & Environment Updates 

Energy & Environment Director Dr. Charles Sims and Research Associate Dr. Jilleah Welch recently published an article on green gentrification in the journal Sustainability. This work was funded as a seed grant from UTK’s Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.

Dr. Sims and Baker Center Fellow Dr. Seong-Hoon Cho published an article giving recommendations on how conservation organizations and government agencies should prioritize habitat protection for biodiversity.  
gulf of guinea

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea 

The Washington Post published an article by  Global Security Fellow Dr. Brandon Prins and the research team he led on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Be sure to check out the article here. If you don't have a subscription to the Post, the same research can be read in Marine Policy here

Environmental Twitter 

Energy & Environment Fellow Dr. Paul Armsworth recently co-authored a paper on "Environmental Twitter," or active users on Twitter that follow prominent environmental groups like The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The analysis found six personas that coalesced around 21 environmental issues. A summary in the science brief can be found here
Water ecosystem

Water Quality EPA Grant   

Energy & Environment Fellow Christian Vossler, along with researchers from Cornell University, University of Massachusetts, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin, was awarded a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a project titled: “Valuing Water Quality Improvements in Nationwide Ecosystems: Total Value Based on the Biological Condition Gradient.” The primary goal of the project is to use methods grounded in economics and ecology to calculate the monetized benefits associated with potential large-scale improvements of aquatic ecosystems across the country, which will aid the EPA in various regulatory and cost-benefit analyses.

Three3 Project 

Energy & Environment Fellow Dr. Bruce Tonn currently serves as President of Three3, Inc, a 501(c)3 research nonprofit located in Knoxville with a mission to foster equitable and sustainable futures. The organization along with UT and Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) were awarded a pilot project grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Connected Communities initiative. This two-year pilot project aims to improve resilience of elders to indoor and outdoor risks through the development of the Elders Alerts System about Imminent Environmental Risks (EASIER) by installing indoor environmental quality (IEQ) monitoring sensors to measure temperature, humidity, particulate matter and other indoor conditions.  

2022 Chemistry Conferences 

This spring, Baker Center Fellow Dr. Debroah Pencoff presented and chaired several conferences on applications in nuclear and radiochemistry. The conferences were the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting, the International Conference on Methods and Applications of Radioanalytical Chemistry, and the TechConnect Innovations in Rare Earths and Critical Minerals.  
Baltic States

Baltic Security Research Grant 

Global Security Fellow Dr. Gary Uzonyi was awarded a Research Grant for Emerging Scholars from the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies on July 1 to study Baltic Security.

Teaching & Mentorship

Washington Fellows Program

2022 Washington Fellows Program

We want to take this opportunity to thank all the UTK alumni, Center board members, and staff at the Bipartisan Policy Center who shared their time and expertise with the Washington Fellows. Specifically, we want to recognize Steve Scully, Senior Vice President of Communications, for serving as co-instructor for the course. 
The twelve students heard from a variety of speakers from The Hill, Congressional offices, the US Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and The White House. The fellows also participated in three workshops, attended a Tennessee Tuesday with Sen. Bill Hagerty and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, toured the Senate and visited numerous museums.  
We want to personally thank Baker Center board members Cissy Baker, Ambassador AB Culvahouse, and Pat Butler for their time and commitment to preparing the next group of leaders. For a full list of speakers our students heard from, please click here
This program would not be possible without the generous financial support of Center board member Amb. Margaret Scobey, journalist Georgiana Vines, business entrepreneur Regina Murray, and the Boyd Fund for Leadership and Civil Discourse. For more information about how to make these programs possible, please email us at or follow this link


Landyn Ford

Student Spotlight 

Landyn Ford is a Religious Studies major with a concentration in Nonprofit Leadership from Jacksboro, Tennessee. He is actively involved with the Baker Center as a Washington Fellow, Baker Scholar, Baker Ambassador, and minoring in the Center's Public Policy Analytics. Landyn shares, "The Washington Fellows Program was a very impactful and fruitful experience. The program gave me the opportunity to engage with experts in the policy areas I am interested in and learn from their experiences, perspectives, and challenges. The insight I acquired from the people I met with will be instrumental in the development of my Baker Scholar's thesis about Healthcare Sharing Ministries as well as in my future occupation as a healthcare administrator in a pediatric hospital."

Meet Us

Wendy Rast

Baker Center Staff Spotlight

We want to highlight Grants Manager Wendy Rast for this month's staff spotlight. Wendy started at the Center in November 2021. She previously worked for the university as part of the COVID response team. 
Wendy works with externally funded projects, including grants and contracts, for the Baker Center faculty and fellows. Examples of the grants include Dr. Prins' Department of Defense Minerva grant, Dr. Sim's Sloan Foundation grant, and Dr. Cahill's Appalachian Regional Commission grant for the Appalachian Leadership Institute
Wendy is from Knoxville and graduated from UT with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master's in Public Health. Wendy has two children and enjoys reading, sewing and spending time with her family. We are so grateful to have Wendy as part of our team to keep our research on track and running smoothly. Thank you for all that you do! 
Washington Fellows Trip

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. Visit for more information. 
Some ways to get involved with the Center:

Support Us

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan institute devoted to education and research concerning public policy and civic engagement and made possible by many generous donors including Senator Baker. For more information about the Center and ways to support our efforts go to
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Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy
1640 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865-974-0931
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