The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Baker Buzz

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

Front of the Baker Center building


rare earth elements

Baker Café: Rare Earth Elements and Critical Materials and National Security

Join us as we welcome Dr. Deborah Penchoff, Associate Director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory and faculty member of Nuclear Engineering, for a Baker Cafe, "Rare Earth Elements and Critical Materials: Uses, Availability, Dependence on Foreign Sources, and Effects on National Security." Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are critical materials vital to the economy and national security. They are used in technological applications and defense devices that are essential to the growth and health of the nation. This presentation will explore applications of REEs in clean energy, electronics, and defense. REE’s abundance, resources and challenges, and the need for solutions and alternatives for REEs’ utilization and production will be discussed. The Baker Cafe is free and open to the public. It will take place on Friday, September 17 from 10:00 to 11:00am in Toyota Auditorium. 
voter registration tailgate

Tennessee Secretary of State Partners with Universities for Voter Registration Tailgates 

Join us for the Voter Registration Tailgate, a partnership with the Tennessee Secretary of State to register students and fans to vote. At the tailgate, you will be guided through the registration process in minutes using You can participate by registering to vote at the Voter Registration Tailgate on Saturday, September 18 from
8:30 am to 12:00 pm 
and encouraging your friends to come by and register.
Election experts will be at the tailgate to answer any questions you may have about Tennessee’s easy voting process. Tennessee voters can also visit or call the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections at 1-877-850-4959 for more information. More information can be found here. 

Did You Know September is National Voter Registration Month? 

Elections for local and statewide office are happening in 2022 and these offices make decisions about things that affect your life every day like schools, transportation, healthcare, and taxes. In Tennessee, there have been state and local elections decided by only a handful of votes. In these races, your vote could be the deciding factor. If you're not registered to vote, you can easily register at or learn more about the process at

Other Upcoming Events 

Visit the calendar of events for more information on these upcoming events. We hope to see you there! 


economic impact in tennessee

Baker Center Economists Inform East Tennessee Economic Council 

Dr. Matt Murray, emeritus director, and Dr. Jilleah Welch, research associate, presented research on the DOE’s economic impact in the state of Tennessee to the East Tennessee Economic Council. The report details the economic impact of Oak Ridge National Lab, analyzing job creation, state GDP growth, private-sector procurements, payroll and pension disbursement, state and local tax contributions, and the ripple effects of spending across the state. Read more here
Minerva initiative

Global Security Fellow to Complete Two Department of Defense Projects 

Global Security Fellow Dr. Brandon Prins is part of two research teams funded by Minerva grants from the Department of Defense. He will serve as the Principal Investigator on a three-year project to research maritime law enforcement in the Indo-Pacific. The project will build on previous Minerva projects that explored temporal and spatial trends in maritime piracy as well as the resource assets available to local armed groups. Read more here
The second award will fund a five-year research project designed to assess the effectiveness of Russian propaganda messages by monitoring the content of propaganda and then measuring the effectiveness of the Russian state-sponsored propaganda and disinformation messages. The project is managed by the Office of Naval Research. Read more here.
Zoom discussion with Rescuing Health

Associate Director Joins Panel on Impacts of Medicaid Block Grants 

Associate Director Dr. Katie Cahill explained the policy implications of Medicaid block grants in Tennessee as part of a panel discussion hosted by Knoxville nonprofit Rescuing Health. She joined Dr. Carole Myers from UT Nursing, Aaron Bradley, Sen. Richard Briggs, Rep. Gloria Johnson, Melissa Knight, Judy Roitman and Kinika Young on the panel moderated by the nonprofit's Ana Gonclavas. The discussion lasted two hours and answered pressing questions about the state's healthcare system – Will block grants save the State money and encourage innovation? What is the potential for vulnerable populations to lose coverage? and more. If you missed the event, you can watch it here
korea foundation

Global Security Fellows Receive International Foundation Grant 

Director of Global Security Dr. Krista Weigand and Global Security Fellow Dr. Sojeong Lee was awarded a grant from the Korea Foundation to research South Korea’s Role in the era of a U.S. and China rivalry. The project will explore territorial and maritime disputes, alliances, and regional security. The grant is part of the Korea Foundation Support for Policy-Oriented Research program. Read more here.
In the news

Baker Center In The News 

The Center's research and experts serve as valuable resources for journalists trying to help the public understand policy. Here's a sample of the news coverage featuring the Center in recent weeks. 
Dr. Brandon Prins comments on today's piracy hotspots in the Washington Post. Read the full article here.
 Dr. Marianne Wannamaker comments on Memphis's labor shortage due to Covid-19 in the Washington Post. Read the full article here
 Dr. Marianne Wannamaker also comments on the Delta Variant and how it could affect economic recovery. Read the full article here
Center research informs Tennessee's economic impact policy, as reported by WVLT. Read the full article here
Tennessee state capital

CORE-19 Continues to Provide up-to-date Information on COVID-19

For up-to-date, well-researched information on COVID-19, visit and follow the Baker Center on Twitter for updates on the pandemic @UTBakerCenter


city of knoxville

Public Policy Analytics Students Research Housing Development

Students in the Center's undergraduate Minor in Public Policy Analytics will work on the issue of homelessness in Knoxville this semester. Using a data-driven approach, they will investigate the causes and consequences of homelessness for individuals and communities. Students in the class will collect and deploy data to understand this issue and provide the analysis that policymakers can use to be effective. 

Student Organizations: Test Your Knowledge of the Constitution at Constitution Day Jeopardy

Do you think you know the US Constitution? Test your knowledge against your peers for the chance to win cash prizes. Join Student Programs and the Department of Political Science to celebrate Constitution Day with fun and a top prize of $250. Join us Friday, September 17th at 3:00 pm over Zoom. Register for the virtual event here

Global Security Research Workshops Returning for Fall 2021

The Global Security Research Workshop provides a forum for collaboration between researchers across Tennessee institutions. The workshops are hosted 5-7 times each semester with faculty and graduate students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the University of Memphis, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University and University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. At each workshop, a professor or graduate student presents research at all stages for feedback from other experts. Please contact Dr. Sojeong Lee with questions. More information is included here. 
Dr. Welch Headshot

Center's Research Associate to Teach Undergraduate Economics 

Dr. Jilleah Welch, a research associate at the Baker Center, will be teaching Economics 305: Markets, Capitalism, and Ethics this fall for the Haslam College of Business. She will bring her expertise environmental economics and public finance to the course covering market forces and economic decisions in a broad social context. The class will study free markets and capitalism and discuss alternative economic systems. Students will also learn about topics such as market failure, government intervention, social welfare, and corporate responsibility. 

Student Engagement

students at graduation

Write an Undergraduate Thesis – Become a Baker Scholar! 

Applications for the Baker Scholars Program are now open. The central undertaking of each Baker Scholar is a project that involves either research on a specific policy issue or implementation of a creative initiative that contributes toward understanding of public policy issues, governance, civic engagement, or public service. The program consistently attracts the University of Tennessee’s most academically gifted, politically curious students by offering a unique and meaningful opportunity for engagement in the field of public policy. The application is due September 10th. Contact Dr. Jon Ring, Director of Student Programs, for more information. View the Baker Scholars thesis repository hereRead more.
students at an event

Baker Ambassador Program Accepting Applications 

The Baker Ambassador Program provides students an opportunity to help create, plan, and manage special events in connection with the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. Baker Ambassadors must commit to the principles of civility and integrity following the legacy of Senator Baker, and be dedicated to the spirit of public service. Contact Dr. Jon Ring, Director of Student Programs with questions. Learn more here.
Baker students at graduation

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:
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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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