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Baker Buzz

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

Front of the Baker Center building


One World

A Rational Basis for Hope: Human Behavior Modeling and Climate Change

Join us for a hybrid Energy & Environment Forum with Dr. Louis J. Gross, an ecology and evolutionary biology and mathematics professor at the University of Tennessee. During this forum, Gross will discuss efforts to build models to link social systems and human behavior with climate. He will elaborate on how results from these efforts improve our understanding of how social, political, and technical feedback processes drive future climate policies and emissions. Under some circumstances, human behavior changes can lead to a meaningful reduction of projected future average temperature.
Dr. Gross retires in June, and this is his final research lecture. Don't miss it!
The forum will be held on Thursday, April 7th, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium or through our live webcast.  

Taking the Pulse of the U.S. Economy's Lifeblood

Join us for a virtual Baker Cafe with Dr. Alex Scott of UT's Haslam College of Business. Trucks are the "lifeblood of the U.S. economy." In this Baker Cafe, Dr. Marianne Wanamaker, Executive Director of the Baker Center, will interview Dr. Scott and discuss his research examining federal safety policies and their effect on driver behavior. The discussion of his research will also include how voluntary environmental programs can influence investment decisions of trucking firms, why there are so few women who work as truck drivers, and some potential benefits if more women decide to become truck drivers.
The virtual Baker Cafe will be held on Friday, April 8, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm through our live webcast.

Undesirable Immigrants - Why Racism Persists in International Migration

Join us for a hybrid Global Security Lecture with Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, an Assistant Professor of International Relations and Political Methodology at the University of Florida. Dr. Rosenberg will discuss the history of colonialism and imperialism by Western countries and how it has shaped the racial discrimination persistent in modern international migration patterns. The discussion is based on Dr. Rosenberg's upcoming book.
The lecture will be held on Wednesday, April 13, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the Toyota Auditorium or through our live webcast.  

Hypersonic Technology: What it is, Why it Matters, and the State of American Defense Capabilities

Join us for a virtual Baker Cafe with Dr. Ragini Acharya of the UT Space Institute on Friday, April 22, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm through our live webcast

Preventing La Crosse Encephalitis Infections in the Children of East TN

Join us for an Energy & Environment Forum with Dr. Becky Trout-Fryxell, a researcher and professor at the University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture, on Thursday, April 28, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium or through our live webcast

Special Guests


2022 Baker Distinguished Lecture with Dr. Jonathan Haidt

We had an excellent crowd on March 31st for Dr. Haidt's lecture, "The Three Bad Ideas Damaging American Universities." He met with students before addressing the public and held a lively Q&A with audience members after his remarks.  
Greek consul

Greek Consul Theodoros Dimopoulos

We were honored to host Theodoros Dimopoulos, the Consul of Greece in Atlanta, President Randy Boyd, and Vice Provost for International Affairs Gretchen Neisler for lunch at the Baker Center. The consul’s visit coincided with Greek Independence Day, and we were delighted to celebrate the occasion with him.

Sasakawa USA

Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA

In March, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA President and Chairman, Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, and Director of Programs, Shanti Shoji, visited the Baker Center, discussing ways we can help promote Baker's legacy of supporting US-Japanese relations. We look forward to working with Sasakawa USA on joint initiatives.

Research & Engagement

Russia and Ukraine flag

Global Security Program News

When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Global Security Fellows were ready to answer questions about the war. Dr. Krista Wiegand, Director of Global Security, wrote an analysis of the Russia-Ukraine war that appeared in The Washington Post on March 4th: "Russia's land grabs in Ukraine could break the international order."

Dr. Wiegand and fellows Dr. Brandon Prins and Dr. Gary Uzonyi gave multiple interviews on all three Knoxville TV stations and with The Compass. On March 1st, Dr. Wiegand joined with fellow Dr. Wonjae Hwang, journalism professor Dr. Catherine Luther, and Energy & Environment post-doctoral fellow Dr. Tim Roberson to speak on a panel attended by 325 people in-person and online. On March 18th, Dr. Wiegand presented about the war to the East Tennessee Economic Council, and Dr. Prins spoke at Lincoln Memorial University Law School on March 29th.

CAFE Fuel Economy Standards

Dr. David Greene, Senior Fellow at the Baker Center, provided critical counsel as well as technical and policy expertise to the Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards announced last week. Under new federal rules, new vehicles sold in the U.S. will have to average at least 40 miles per gallon of gasoline in 2026. More information about the fuel economy standards can be found here
Natural Gas

State Energy Policy Council Report 

Dr. Matt Murray, Senior Fellow at the Baker Center and former executive director, prepared the State Energy Policy Council’s (SEPC) report titled “Energy Security Planning: Ensuring Natural Gas Capacity to Meet Tennessee’s Economic Development Needs.” The SEPC was established through Public Chapter 458 in 2017. The report identifies certain supply constraints in relation to the state’s utility infrastructure and makes recommendations.

social media collage

Event-driven Dynamics of Social Media: A Case Study in Belarus

A research publication with Global Security Faculty Fellow Dr. Brandon Prins is upcoming in Springer Nature Social Sciences. Other contributors include Alex Bentley, Natalie Rice, Benjamin Horne, Catherine Luther, Joshua Borycz, Suzie Allard, Damian Ruck, Michael Fitzgerald, and Oleg Manaeva.
The publication focuses on how social media - which has been used worldwide for a decade to inform, organize, and coordinate mass opposition to authoritarian governmental control - is increasingly being used to misinform public audiences as counter-measures. The case study in Belarus indicates how the effects of influential opinion leaders versus peer-to-peer sharing are in dynamic balance in spreading disinformation. The novelty of a major event can lead audience networks to shift from the influential dispensing of information before an event to a decentralized sharing of information after it. 

IPCC WG III AR6 report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The report focuses on climate change mitigation, including strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing them from the atmosphere.
David McCollum is a Senior Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and an Energy & Environment Research Fellow. He co-authored several chapters of AR6, particularly those focusing on scenarios, modeling methodologies, and climate mitigation investments. He previously led activities within the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5 - WG III) and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR1.5). 

Securing the Sea: The New Frontier of Global Politics

In March, Global Security Faculty Fellow Dr. Brandon Prins organized a panel at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association in Nashville, TN. The panel was entitled "Securing the Sea: The New Frontier of Global Politics." It included scholars from the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, and Finland. The panel's purpose was to examine the underlying conditions associated with maritime crime and security.

Teaching & Mentorship


Thriving in DC Workshop

The Baker Center is hosting a workshop for students interning in D.C. over the summer on Friday, April 8th, from 3:00 - 5:00 PM, and Saturday, April 9th, from 9:00 - 11:00 AM. At the training session, two UTK alumni: Jake Baker and Emily Costanzo, who are currently working on The Hill, will be joining to share their valuable insights on how to thrive in D.C. This workshop is open to anyone who will be working in D.C. this summer, but space is limited. Please reach out to Dr. Jonathan Ring, Director of Student Programs, at to sign up.



Baker Alumna Spotlight 

Congratulations to Savannah Hall, former Baker Scholar and current Communications Specialist at the Baker Center, for being named a Torchbearer! This is the highest student honor conferred by the University of Tennessee. Last fall, Savannah was recognized as a top graduate of Haslam College of Business. She served as chairwoman for SGA's First-Year Council and Senate. Savannah co-founded Leading Women of Tomorrow and was a member of Tri Delta and Kappa Alpha Pi. She completed internships in the U.S. House and Senate and will be attending law school this fall. You make us proud! 

Meet Us

Susan Roberts

Baker Center Staff Spotlight

We want to highlight our Office Manager Susan Roberts. Susan has been with us for almost a year but has made a big impact through the way she conducts herself and spreads positivity around the office. When asked her favorite part about working at the Center, Susan said assisting Baker Center students and everyone who works towards their success is incredibly rewarding."Being a part of the team here, at the Center, is truly the highlight of my career and one that I do not take for granted." -Susan

We love and appreciate all that you do Susan. Thank you!
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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