#IncomingElliott: Andrew Conn

Andrew Conn, MA International Science and Technology Policy, Class of 2025, #IncomingElliott Student

Andrew Conn is an International Program Manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His work at NIST focuses on promoting scientific engagement with research organizations and institutions in that specialize in metrology (measurement science). He studied Politics at SUNY Potsdam (B.A.) and International Commerce and Policy at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government (M.A.). Andrew lives with his wife and son in Frederick County, Maryland. When not chasing his son around the playground, he enjoys sci-fi novels and woodworking. He is beginning the International Science and Technology Policy program at the Elliott School.

What has been your most rewarding academic or professional experience so far?

My day-to-day work focuses on promoting scientific collaboration between my agency and our foreign counterparts. The most rewarding part of my job is knowing I play a role in helping our labs connect with talented researchers from around the world. Each collaboration is unique, and you never know what interesting discovery or development might come from these exchanges. I’m always very excited when we help establish or enable a collaboration that yields something that might not have emerged otherwise. This could be a reference material that helps labs detect mycotoxins, novel approaches to measuring and characterizing nanomaterials, or research that helps industry incorporate biodegradable plastics into their products and packaging.

What made you interested in your graduate program of choice?

I work at a federal research agency that does a lot. We have research programs in quantum information science, advanced communications, material science, bioscience, and information security, among many others. It’s both exciting and very challenging to stay on top of the ways our organization supports developments in these areas of research. I know that if I want to continue advancing in my career, I will need to have better insight into how the federal government should approach R&D and pursue scientific cooperation with foreign entities. I’m excited about the opportunity to bring my professional experiences into an academic setting and find ways to improve the quality of my work.

If you could be a paid intern anywhere in DC during your program, where would you want to intern and why?

Unfortunately, my interning days are behind me. However, if I could reimagine this question as something like “where might you want to do a temporary assignment?” I would say ANSI (American National Standards Institute). You don’t have to be a technical expert to appreciate how and why standards are developed and become integral to so many products and services we rely on daily. It may seem like a dry topic, but the standards development process has everything: politics, economics, technical science and engineering concepts, public health, and safety issues, etc. Experts come together and try to come up with a written standard that’s relevant and useful. If there is a subject or technology you are passionate about, there is likely a documentary standard that reflects what the world’s leading experts on that topic believe organizations and manufacturers should do to address it or make it better.

Why did you choose to commit to the Elliott School for your graduate program?

The Elliott School has a phenomenal reputation, but it was ultimately the program in science and technology policy with a great array of courses that sealed the deal for me. I have very specific motivations for returning to school and it is important to me that I be able to take what I learn in the classroom and apply it to my work.

Where is the first place you’d like to visit in a #postCOVID world?

St. Lucia. The pandemic ruined plans for a work trip to the island. I look at pictures of St. Lucia’s beaches and mountain views weekly.


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The #IncomingElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights newly enrolling students to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.