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Baker Buzz

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

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Baker Center announcement

Staff returns to the office, June 1 

As of June 1, we have returned to the office to prepare for the return to full campus operations this fall. We will host a combination of in-person and virtual events in the fall and look forward to seeing you there! 


Logo of Environmental Protection Agency

Energy & Environment Fellow nominated to the EPA's Science Advisory Board

Energy & Environment Fellow Dr. J. Scott Holladay has been nominated to serve on the Science Advisory Board (SAB) for the Environmental Protection Agency. The Board provides scientific advice to the EPA Administrator on a variety of EPA science and research topics. Until June 9, 2021, public comments on the candidates under consideration for appointment to the Board are welcome to be submitted to the SAB Staff Office.
Coal resources

Energy & Environment Director to lead DOE-funded project for innovative uses of South Appalachian Coal Resources

Energy & Environment Director Dr. Charles Sims will lead a 2-year project funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy. The project will develop new technologies for manufacturing coal-derived products using coal resources near distressed South Appalachian coal communities. Read more here.

American Chemical Society Logo

Global Security Fellow tapped to serve ACS Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology

Global Security Fellow and Associate Director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory Dr. Deborah Penchoff was elected to serve on the Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology at the American Chemical Society (ACS) as a council-member-at-large. Penchoff will serve a three-year term in which she will support the nuclear community and the larger body of ACS for radio- and nuclear-chemistry needs. 

Energy & Environment Fellows to lead NSF-funded project to improve biodiversity protection efforts

Energy & Environment Director Dr. Charles Sims and Fellows Dr. Paul Armsworth and Dr. Seong-Hoon Cho will join an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the University of Southern California, and Virginia Tech to research more dynamic and flexible approaches to biodiversity protections in the new era of climate change. The researchers will focus on the central and southern Appalachian Mountains as a test-case landscape for the development of a more dynamic vision of conservation. Read more here.

Tennessee state capital

CORE-19 continues to provide up-to-date information on COVID-19

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 virus's health and economic impacts. For up-to-date, well-researched information on COVID-19, visit and follow the Baker Center on Twitter for updates on the pandemic @UTBakerCenter

In Memoriam 

In memory of David Bjornstad, a note from the Director 

It is with deep remorse that I share news of the passing of Dr. David Bjornstad, a long time personal friend,  colleague, and Fellow at the Baker Center. Our roots together go back to our alma mater, Syracuse University, where we both received our PhDs in economics, though at different times. We shared many common faculty and institutional memories of our time at Syracuse. David held a position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for many years and worked jointly with the Baker Center on various research projects. David, we will all miss you. 


SMART logo

Associate Director authors brief to inform criminal justice reform in Tennessee

Associate Director Dr. Katie Cahill is the lead author of a recent policy brief from the SMART Policy Network, a multidisciplinary group of public policy experts, healthcare and criminal justice professionals, and community members who produce research to inform policies to prevent substance misuse and advance effective treatment and recovery support services for Tennessee. The policy brief, Substance Misuse and Incarceration in Tennessee, argues that by prioritizing evidence-based treatments that target the underlying medical and behavioral issues driving addictive habits for justice-involved individuals the state could simultaneously address rising recidivism, reincarceration, and growing substance misuse within the criminal justice system. Read the brief here.
NBER logo

Energy & Environment fellows present at 2021 NBER Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy Conference

Energy & Environment Director Dr. Charles Sims and research fellow Dr. J. Scott Holladay presented alongside Dr. Rebecca Davis, a former Baker Center researcher at the annual Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy Conference, hosted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. At the conference, they discussed the findings of their recent paper, "Coal Fired Power Plant Retirements in the U.S.", which summarizes the history of U.S. coal-fired generator retirements over the last decade, describes planned future retirements, and forecasts the remaining operating life for every operating coal-fired generator. The paper will be published in the annual conference journal alongside the six other papers presented at the conference. Read more here.
SafeSeas logo

Global Security fellow delivers piracy webinar to SafeSeas research network

Global Security Fellow Dr. Brandon Prins participated in a webinar alongside the world's foremost experts in maritime policy hosted by SafeSeas, a network of researchers studying maritime security and ocean governance. The panelists discussed the root causes of piracy, building off of findings from the recent book Pirate Lands, which Prins co-authored. View the webinar here.

Student Engagement

The Center strives to provide pathways for students to be engaged in the public policy process. Here are a few upcoming opportunities for students. Follow us on social media to keep tabs on future opportunities @UTBakerCenter
Harvard Kennedy School logo

Harvard Kennedy School Public Policy Leadership Conference

Each year, the Harvard Kennedy School hosts a Public Policy Leadership Conference to inspire students to pursue careers in public policy. Baker Center students who have attended the conference in the past gained valuable experiences and opportunities to learn about what it means to study public policy in a graduate school environment. The conference will be held virtually this October and applications are due June 15th at 5 pm EST. Find more information about the conference and application process here.
Virtual Student Federal Service logo

Virtual Student Federal Service Program with the US State Department

The US State Department is accepting applications during the month of July for the Virtual Student Federal Service program. VSFS is a nine-month unpaid remote internship for US citizen college students. Virtual interns work on unclassified projects with their choice of several federal government agencies such as the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and USAID. The application opens July 1, when the bulletin will appear on Visit for more information. 
Baker students with sen. 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. Visit for more information.
Some ways to get involved with the Center:
Contact Us
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Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy
1640 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865-974-0931
Big Orange. Big Ideas.
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