The U.S. Embassy Science Fellows Program: Implementation and Impacts

International cooperation in science and technology (S&T) plays an important role in driving scientific discovery, enhancing economic prosperity, and addressing broader foreign policy interests. One such program that infuses S&T into foreign policy is the U.S. Department of State’s (DoS) Embassy Science Fellows (ESF) program, which is designed to promote scientific personnel deployment in support of diplomacy. The aim of this paper is to utilize nearly two decades of data to assess the ESF program from a U.S. DoS perspective. We analyzed Fellows’ perceptions of their ESF experience, obtained through both quantitative and qualitative surveys, to identify both successful program elements and areas that might benefit from further improvements. Since 2001, the U.S. government has dispatched approximately 500 science and technology experts, spanning twenty-five federal agencies, most often from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (accounting for over 50% of ESF). Through 2001-2019, requests for ESFs Fellows were submitted by U.S. Embassies and Consulates in 142 countries. In response, the program was able to send experts to 116 countries, with deployments in China (N=51), Portugal (N=15), and the Philippines (N=14) leading. We found it encouraging that most Fellows reported favorable assessments of the program and its results and benefits to Fellows and hosts. They also reported that there was expanded international S&T cooperation and enhanced understanding of U.S. foreign policy goals. Also encouraging was the finding that home agencies benefitted following their employees’ ESF experience, as Fellows were better poised to advance the diverse, agency mission and priorities. The main sources of ESF dissatisfaction identified by Fellows were perceived isolation and insufficiently clear aims. Overall, this paper finds that the ESF program has been successful in terms of providing benefits to hosts, Fellows, and their employing agencies, and in expanding international S&T cooperation. We offer our perspective on opportunities for improvement and areas for further study and propose the ESF program as a model for other countries.



Work Title The U.S. Embassy Science Fellows Program: Implementation and Impacts
Open Access
  1. Jacqueline S McLaughlin
  2. Gad D. Perry
  3. Kevin B Manuel
  4. Kelly S. Soluri
  5. Andrew M Hebbeler
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Science and Diplomacy
Publication Date September 23, 2021
Deposited October 03, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added McLaughlin_et_al_Fall_2021_Science___Diplomacy.pdf
  • Added Creator Jacqueline S McLaughlin
  • Added Creator Gad D. Perry
  • Added Creator Kevin B Manuel
  • Added Creator Kelly S. Soluri
  • Added Creator Andrew M Hebbeler
  • Published