Skip to main content
Left to right, front row: Professor Bill Park, Elliot Bertasi, Associate Professor Brandon Prins, Matthew Dillon, MacKenzie Higgins, Visiting Assistant Professor Karen Boyd, Kristen Kennedy, Associate Professor Carol Myers, Jeremy Williams, Professor Carl Pierce, and Baker Center Director Matt Murray. Back row: Richard Lusk and Eric Dixon.

Some recent graduates and seniors were recently awarded Baker Scholar medallions for completing the program sponsored by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Baker Scholars are selected via a competitive application and interview process. They propose a research project, which they complete over the course of an academic year under the mentorship of a faculty member or community professional.

These 2012-2013 Baker Scholars were

  • Elliot Bertasi of Germantown, Tennessee, who graduated from the College Scholars program with an emphasis in international post-conflict development studies. His project was entitled Post-Conflict Development: A Case Study on Northern Uganda. His advisor was Tricia Hepner, associate professor of anthropology. Bertasi is an intern with the US Agency for International Development in the Office of Development Planning, Africa Bureau. He plans to attend law school at Georgetown University.
  • Matthew Dillon of Knoxville, who graduated from the College Scholars program with an emphasis in international relations and modern foreign languages. His project was entitled A False START: The Role of Ballistic Missile Defense in US-Russian Relations. His advisor was Brandon Prins, associate professor of political science. Dillon plans to enroll in a dual master’s program in international affairs from the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the London School of Economics.
  • Eric Dixon of Knoxville, who has completed four majors–philosophy, economics, global studies, and sociology with a concentration in environmental issues—and will graduate in December 2013 after attending a National Student Exchange program at the University of Arizona, Tucson. His project was Growing the Clean Energy Economy of Central Appalachia: A Policy Approach. His advisor was Jon Shefner, professor of sociology. Dixon plans to hike the Appalachian Trail before attending graduate school for public policy.
  • Mackenzie Higgins of Indianapolis, Indiana, who graduated with a major in Global Studies and Spanish. Her project was United States and Canada: A Comparative Analysis of the Effect of the Socioeconomic Gap on Education Performance in Two Education Systems. Her advisor was Karen Boyd, visiting assistant professor of education. Higgins will be teaching high school math in Indianapolis through the Teach for America Corps.
  • Kristin Kennedy of Knoxville, is a senior in political science and history. Her project was Chronic Absences, Truancy and Dropouts. Her advisor was Bob Kronick, professor of education.
  • Blair West Kuykendall of Kennesaw, Georgia, who graduated from the College Scholars program, served as editor of the Daily Beacon and was named Torchbearer, the highest student honor at UT. Her project was Analyzing the Effectiveness of OECD Economic Regulation in Compliance with ICESCR. Shefner also served as her advisor. Kuykendall plans to attend Georgetown University Law School.
  • Richard Lusk of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who graduated with a degree in business analytics and international business. His project was The Evolving Rare Earth Supply Chain: A Case Study. His advisor was John Bell, assistant professor of marketing and logistics. Lusk is interning at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and will return to UT in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in business analytics.
  • Ryan Roberts of Nashville, who graduated with a College Scholarsdegree in public health policy with an emphasis in dental public health. His project was Oral Health Initiatives: Improving Access to Oral Healthcare. His advisor was Paul Erwin, head of UT’s Department of Public Health. Roberts will be attending UT Health Science Center’s College of Dentistry this fall.
  • Jeremy Williams of Memphis, who graduated with a degree in political science. His project was An Examination of the Individual Mandate. His advisors were Carol Myers, associate professor of nursing, and Carl Pierce, law professor. Williams plans to apply for law school.

Established in 2003, the Baker Center seeks to further the public’s knowledge of the US government and public policy and to encourage civil leadership and public service. The center sponsors programs to encourage informed discussion, with a special focus on engaging young people in policy issues and public service.

For more information about the Baker Center and the Baker Scholars program, visit the Baker Center website.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Nissa Dahlin-Brown (865-974-8681,