Vivian Pan, AGUs Congressional Science Fellow for 1991–1992, is serving on the staff of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Here she reflects on her first few months in Washington.

This fellowship is a genuine opportunity. I came to Washington with expectations of playing a role in some of the issues facing Congress. Having worked only in scientific research for the past 8 years and having no experience in public policy, I faced an enormous challenge. I arrived in Washington in late August to find policymakers scrambling about trying to keep pace with the changing global environment. This was exemplified during my 1-month orientation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. We Fellows undergoing the orientation—scientists and engineers from different fields—heard from policy specialists on issues facing the 102nd Congress. It is no exaggeration to say that our guest lecturers were literally searching for words. Their prepared talks on national security and foreign policy issues were outdated overnight.