While studying sculpture at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, Baker became preoccupied with the dual threats of climate change and ocean acidification. To cope with her worries about the planet, she started building giant ceramic representations of phytoplankton that reflected the enormous scale of the problem and showcased the invisible biology underpinning the devastating changes to our ecosystem. From there she worked as an art teacher at a pediatric oncology hospital in Asheville, NC and apprenticed with conceptual artist Mel Chin before venturing into the world of nuclear energy.
From 2009-2014 Baker spent six years working with communities that host nuclear facilities across the fuel cycle ranging from mining and refining, to power plants, and waste management facilities. She traveled the world and documented the spectrum of ways that communities relate to these sites and facilitated outreach and workforce development programs in communities across the southeastern US. During this time Baker witnessed discrepancies in the way that the risks and benefits of nuclear energy impact different communities—and especially different groups within those communities. She realized that for nuclear energy to reach its full potential as a part of the climate response, big changes would be needed to achieve broader access and real equity. And that’s when she took the leap entering into the nuclear workforce to help shape a better future for the technology.
In 2014, Baker joined the Idaho National Laboratory, where she supported the creation of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear—a program designed to expedite the commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies. From there she spent a year working in the Department of Energy Office of International Nuclear Energy Policy which ignited a passion for policy making. She spent three years as an advisor at Third Way working on advanced nuclear energy policy before taking on the role of Creative Director for the Fastest Path to Zero Initiative at the University of Michigan, where she is a part of a fantastic team focused on the research side of advanced reactor siting and community engagement.
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