After being selected as the AGU Congressional Science Fellow in March 2009, I packed my bags and moved from sunny Colorado to steamy Washington, D.C., in late August. By mid-September I had completed an intensive 2-week orientation program for incoming Science and Technology Fellows organized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). If I was feeling somewhat breathless at that point, it was nothing compared with the experience of searching for a congressional office in which to spend my year.
Congressional Science Fellows are funded by their societies, so they are a source of free expertise to members of Congress and congressional committees. Science and Technology Fellows are in high demand, but the quality of the experience for both the fellow and the office depends on finding the right match of interests and personalities. The matchmaking process can take several weeks—and a lot of agonizing—but by the end of September, I was a member of Senator Byron Dorgan's (D-N.D.) energy and environment team.