Thomas Baker, FCIC, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Catalysis Science for Energy Applications at the University of Ottawa, recently became a faculty affiliate with the university’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP). This position will allow him to participate in ISSP governance meetings, where he can contribute to setting priorities for this multi-disciplinary academic body’s work on teaching, research, and outreach.
Baker’s first experience with the ISSP was in 2013, when now-director Monica Gattinger invited him to take part in the Collaboratory on Energy Research and Policy, an initiative dedicated to this often-contentious field.
“Since I worked at a Department of Energy National Lab for 12 years before coming to Ottawa, I had a lot of interest in all things energy,” he explains.
The Collaboratory linked researchers and others with an interest in energy matters, so that interdisciplinary exchanges and evidence-based discussions could take place. For Baker, it was an introduction to the busy program schedule that ISSP mounts every year, on energy and a wide range of other issues.
“Monica and her group bring in the industry players to these meetings,” he says, noting that has helped bring in high profile guest speakers, including the former director of Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.
The ISSP regularly serves as a forum that offers all sides of complex issues, such as where to locate energy projects in a way that makes them accessible to markets but does not crowd the current residence of a chosen site. The deliberations can often become heated, but Baker has been regularly impressed by ISSP’s commitment to maintaining an open setting where all sides can be heard and common ground identified.
In addition to his research chair and his new affiliation with the ISSP, Baker is also on the organizing committee for the 2020 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies (Pacifichem). He has previously served as director of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Catalysis Research and Innovation, chair of CSC’s Catalysis Division, and chair of 98th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, which took place in Ottawa in 2015.