Mr. Walker Goes to Washington

Posted by – July 21, 2010

AAAS: Advancing Science, Serving Society Earlier this year, I accepted a Science & Technology Policy Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which I will serve at the US State Department in Washington, DC. Starting August 30, I will take a one-year leave of absence from the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) to serve as a Desk Officer in the Bureau of South and Central Asia, helping manage water, energy, mining, and agricultural issues of U.S. foreign policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I will be one of more than 200 scientists and engineers contributing their training and expertise to the U.S. government while learning first-hand about policymaking and implementation at the federal level. The program is highly selective, and AAAS Fellows are prized by participating agencies for their adaptability, work ethic, and expertise. The Fellows of the 2010-2011 Class are among the brightest, most dedicated, and accomplished people I have ever met, and I am proud to be among them.

My hope is that this Fellowship will help me step beyond my narrow role as a research scientist and to learn how to support policymaking. I have enjoyed the last 20+ years as a field technician, engineer, consultant, and researcher, and am proud of the leadership I have provided within my professional community. However, despite the diversity and duration of my experience, neither consulting nor institutions have offered me more than incrementally larger projects. Lately it has occurred to me that I have maxed out in my current position, but it has also occurred to me that my experience can be leveraged to get me into a higher level. As my nephew Ari would say, the time has come to level up.

Over the next year (and possibly two), I will use this blog to summarize my experiences at the State Department and we’ll see where the year takes me. Unfortunately, it is the nature of this assignment that most of what I do cannot be disclosed – but I will try make it worth the read, regardless. At this point I will reiterate my obligatory disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are my own, and do not represent those of my employer.

Note: to see other entries associated with this Fellowship, select the category ‘AAAS Fellowship’.

Leave a Reply