Andrew W. Womack, Ph.D.
AAAS Congressional Fellow
Office of Senator John F. Kerry (MA)
United States Senate
Background: While I was studying molecular biology in graduate school, I became increasingly interested in the contribution of science and technology to the formation of sound public policy. When I completed my degree, I decided to give public policy a shot, so I applied for a Congressional Fellowship from AAAS. Today, rather than analyzing laboratory results and meeting with my thesis adviser, my typical day is spent analyzing health and education policy proposals and meeting with constituents, industry groups, interest groups, and other stakeholders in the public policy process.
Question 1: Why did you become a researcher/engineer/scientist?
Answer: During the majority of my undergraduate studies, I thought that I wanted to be a physician, but I joined a laboratory during the second semester of my junior year and really loved it. I think I most liked the idea that the data from my experiments were totally new and that no one else had ever known them for certain before!
Question 2: What fuels your passion for your work?
Answer: Like a lot of people, I wanted to work on problems that "really mattered," and that desire was one of the main reasons I decided to come to Capitol Hill. In our office, we work at a very quick pace to address problems that have a significant impact on the daily lives of real people. Some are huge in scope, others are much smaller, but when folks come to the office and tell us how the policies we're working on affect their lives, it's hard to not be passionate about the work.
Question 3: What's playing on your iPod/music player?
Answer: The song that's up right now in the queue is "Smile Like You Mean It" by The Killers.
Question 4: Are you a chef or a restaurateur?
Answer: I love to cook. I think it's a pretty natural extension of the laboratory, actually, although I prefer to just get some great ingredients and wing it, rather than spend all afternoon carefully measuring things out. Plus, the results from my kitchen always taste better (I hope)!
Question 5: If you could have one day in another profession, what would you want to do?
Answer: I'd love to be a food and wine critic doing a story on the 5 best restaurants and 5 best wineries in Napa Valley. I'd be happy to complete my work without a salary, but the per diem would need to be outrageous!
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