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Baker Buzz

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

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Student Spotlight

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Congratulations to 2020 Baker Center Seniors 

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy is proud to recognize the many seniors who participated in programing throughout their years at the University of Tennessee. These students are passionate about public policy, civic engagement, research, and tackling the many issues facing our community, nation, and world. The Baker Center wishes all of these students the best as they continue in their academic or professional careers. 
Baker Scholars:
Jay Hearn: Policy Director for Congressional Campaign 
Hancen Sale: Research Assistant at Howard H. Baker Center
Alexander Tripp: Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. in Political Science

Public Policy Analytics
Jackson Broadwell: Staffer for 2020 Tennessee Senate Campaign
Emily Griffin: Belmont University Law School
Jay Hearn: Policy Director for Congressional Campaign 
Diana Pope: University of Memphis Law School
Hancen Sale: Research Assistant at Howard H. Baker Center
Ryne Tipton: Washington University in St. Louis Law School
Alexander Tripp: Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. in Political Science
Taylor Washington: Penn State Law School 

Baker Ambassadors:

Jay Hearn: Policy Director for Congressional Campaign 
Diana Pope: University of Memphis Law School
Alexander Tripp: Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. in Political Science
Baker Center Student Assistants: 
Jackson Broadwell: Staffer for 2020 TN Senate Campaign
Jay Hern: Policy Director for Congressional Campaign 
Hancen Sale: Research Assistant at Howard H. Baker Center
Connor Sise: Real Estate Agent with R&R Realty Company
Taylor Washington recieving torchbearer award from Chancellor Donde Plowman

Baker Center Student Honored as TorchBearer

Taylor Washington, senior political science and Africana studies major and public policy analytics minor, was recently named a 2020 Torchbearer. The Torchbearer Award is the most prestigious honor at the University of Tennessee. Every year, the University recognizes seniors who "embody the Volunteer spirit while demonstrating academic excellence and a commitment to serving others." After graduation, Taylor plans to attend Penn State Law School. Reflecting on her instruction in the public policy analytics program, Taylor said, "What I love about the Baker Center is the community. Knowing that there are professors and other students who care and are willing to have real conversations has always been exciting."

 "As It Stands:" New Podcast with The Daily Beacon  

Hancen A. Sale, undergraduate researcher at the Center is the host of a new podcast with The Daily Beacon, "As it Stands." The podcast explores politics, policy, and current events through interviews with notable leaders of the Knoxville community, journalists, and policymakers. Guests so far include former White House economist and Baker Fellow Marianne Wanamaker, UT Systems President Randy Boyd, New York Times tax reporter Jim Tankersley, Daily Beast political commentator and senior columnist Matt K. Lewis, and UT Chancellor Donde Plowman. In producing "As It Stands", Hancen said that, "throughout my time at UT, the Baker Center has provided me with the knowledge, resources, and network to turn an idea like As it Stands into a reality." Episodes of "As It Stands" can be found here


The Coronavirus-19 Outbreak Response Experts (CORE-19) 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. A full list of policy briefs, data, and more can be found at
Old man holding up baby

Policy Comparisons

This policy brief describes COVID-19 related policies in Tennessee and provides comparisons of the timing of Stay-at Home orders issued in Tennessee versus nationally.
Stay Home road sign

Social Distancing 

The CORE-19 team has authored two policy briefs related to Social Distancing. Effects of Social-Distancing provides information on the effects of the Stay-at-Home orders issued by Knox County and Knoxville, TN on COVID-19 case projections, including potential hospitalizations and ICU needs. The second, Duration of Social-Distancing, provides information on the importance of social-distancing, and community compliance and includes newly published cost-benefit analysis on the economic and health trade-offs. 
City Street

Local Government Finances 

This policy brief provides information on the potential economic impact of COVID-19 on local revenue streams, including taxes and property taxes, as well as other revenue sources. 

Research and Publications

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Recent Publications from Global Security Director and Fellows

Dr. Krista Wiegand, Director of the Global Security Program, co-authored the article, "The Peaceful Resolution of Territorial Disputes Dataset, 1945-2015", which was recently published in the Journal of Peace Research. Emilia Justyna Powell and Steven McDowell are the co-authors of the article. Wiegand also had two articles accepted into notable journals including "Mutually Assured Distrust: Ideology and Commitment Problems in Civil Wars" in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, with co-author and Baker Fellow Eric Keels and "An Inside Job? Mediator Knowledge and Settlements in Civil Wars" in the British Journal of Politics & International Relations, with co-authors Eric Keels and Global Security Graduate Fellow Erin Rowland
Car covered in grass

Research on Fuel Economy Improvements

Dr. David Greene, Senior Fellow at the Howard Baker Center and Dr. Charles Sims, Director of the Energy & Environment Program, recently authored an article in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Policy that documents a major milestone in US energy and environmental policy. The article notes that fuel economy improvements to U.S. passenger cars and light trucks since 1975 have saved 2 trillion gallons of gasoline and 17 billion tons of CO2 emissions, enough gasoline to run every car and light truck in the U.S. for more than 15 years and more than total U.S. CO2 emissions over the past three years. Read the full article here.  
Group of Pirates being followed by US Coast Guard

"Global Sea Piracy Ticks Upward, and the Coronavirus May Make It Worse"

Dr. Brandon Prins, Global Security Fellow at the Center recently published an article in The Conversation, which explains how COVID-19 could trigger an uptick in piracy. Read the full article here.  
Man working at Super computer

INS Team Leads Research on Actinide Compounds 

Dr. Deborah Penchoff, Director of the Scientific Fellows Program at the Institute for Nuclear Security, was a lead researcher in a recent project which utilized supercomputers to evaluate method dependence in binding preferences of actinides. Penchoff's supercomputing allocation from the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) allowed the team to evaluate cost-effective methods in the study of actinide-containing compounds, which is essential for nuclear security.  More information on this research can be found here and the published paper can be found here.  
Every Woman Vote Logo

Every Woman Vote Campaign  

Amy Gibson, former director of communications and public programming at the Howard Baker Center, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment with the Every Woman Vote campaign. Every Woman Vote aims to present a contemporary view of the women's suffrage movement through 100 interviews with women in the Knoxville community about the importance of voting, aimed at inspiring other women to exercise their right to vote. WUOT has aired several interviews from the campaign and will continue airing content throughout the summer. Sixty interviews have been completed thus far, and they will continue filming once the threat of COVID-19 dissipates. Listen to an interview with Amy Gibson and Brandon Hollingsworth from WUOT about the project here.


Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason Headshot

Farewell to Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason! 

Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason, Energy & Environment Fellow, will be leaving the Baker Center this fall to serve as an Associate Professor at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW). There, she will work closely with the Sustainable Development and Global Practice program to recruit and train social workers in environmental sustainability and ecological justice. Reflecting on her time at The Center, Mason shared, "The University of Tennessee is an excellent place for the kind of multidisciplinary research at the nexus of climate and society that I've pursued over the last several years. Though I will miss UTK, our College of Social Work, and the Knoxville community greatly, I'm also very excited for this next phase of my career – to try and make whatever difference I can to support healthy, thriving, and sustainable communities for all." Mason was also recently honored with the Faculty Award for Environmental Leadership for her work building community rain gardens to manage flooding in North Knoxville. The Center is grateful for all that Dr. Mason has done for our community during her time here, and we wish her all the best!
Dr. Bohon Headshot

Dr. Stephanie Bohon Promoted to Head of Sociology Department  

Beginning this fall, Baker Fellow Dr. Stephanie Bohon will head the Department of Sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Bohon has research interests in immigration, especially in the economic impact and incorporation of Latinx immigration to the South. Bohon also serves as the Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice. In April, Dr. Bohon was also appointed as the President-elect of the Southern Sociological Society. The Center congratulates Dr. Bohon! 
Terrorism and Politcal Violence Course poster

Summer Political Science Course Offering

Why and when do people rebel? What motivates a terrorist? What counter-insurgency strategies work effectively? When do individuals leave terrorist or armed groups? 
Learn more by taking Terrorism and Political Violence (POLS 472-001) this summer. 
This course will address these questions by focusing on the causes of, and the conditions surrounding, political violence. The course will examine social scientific research on the drivers of insurgency, the rise of terrorist groups, the factors associated with radicalization, and efforts to combat violent non-state actors. Students will be introduced to theoretical and empirical research on violent political conflict and the role of non-state actors in our world today.

For more information, please contact Dr. Brandon Prins at
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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