Unlocking the Future

Science and Technology Diplomacy between the United States and the Republic of Korea

As two of the world’s most advanced economies with a strong history of cooperation, the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are well positioned to lead global efforts towards an open, innovative, and sustainable future in the Indo-Pacific. One area with significant potential for collaboration is that of science and technology research, development, and diplomacy. Both the United States and the Republic of Korea have mature and innovative technology sectors and are working to make advancements in commercialization for promising technologies that could change how we move people and products, how we generate electricity, transform our digital ecosystem, and revolutionize the global economy. However, concerns of national security and economic stability, such as intellectual property protection, nonproliferation, and supply chain disruptions, can create barriers for cooperation in such cutting-edge technology. This roundtable on October 24, 2022, identified ways in which U.S.-ROK cooperation can strengthen environments for research and innovation to enable productive science and technology diplomacy.



Michael Wills, The National Bureau of Asian Research


Consul General Eunji Seo, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle


Thomas Lutken, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Jennifer Audet, CleanTech Alliance
Sam Cho, Port of Seattle
Ian Oates, University of Washington
Geoff Potter, Office of Governor Jay Inslee


Ashley Johnson, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Speaker Biographies


Consul General Eunji Seo joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for the Republic of Korea in 1995. She was appointed as Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle in March 2022 after serving as the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Cultural Affairs, MOFA and Director-General of the 2021 Seoul UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Preparatory Secretariat, which was held in Asia for the first time. Her past assignments abroad include San Francisco, United States; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Geneva, Switzerland. She has extensive careers and experiences in the fields of public diplomacy, development cooperation, and disarmament.


Thomas Lutken is a project manager with the Energy and Environmental Affairs group at the National Bureau of Asian Research. Prior to joining NBR, Mr. Lutken worked as a researcher in U.S.-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and as a Hydrologic Technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mr. Lutken earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Brown University in 2014 and a master’s degree in environmental economics and policy from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2019, where he researched the economic impacts of electricity quality in rural India.

Jennifer AUDET is Director of Programs and Communications for the nation’s largest clean technology industry association. Previously, she developed and implemented diplomatic outreach and advocacy initiatives in the U.S. for both the Canadian and German governments. As a Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service Officer for the Government of Canada in Seattle, Ms. Audet built strategic partnerships and networks of influence as the team policy lead for Alaska and the Arctic. As Communications Officer for the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York City, she managed public relations for the center and wrote extensively about cutting-edge research and emerging technologies.

Sam Cho was elected to the Port of Seattle Commission in 2019. The son of immigrants from South Korea, Commissioner Cho was the Founder and CEO of Seven Seas Export, an international trading company headquartered in Seattle. As a political appointee under President Barack Obama, Commissioner Cho helped manage a federal agency and worked on executing the administration’s policies in real asset management and federal procurements. Commissioner Cho also served as a Legislative Assistant to a Washington State Senator and a member of the United States Congress, as well as worked as an analyst at the U.S. Department of State. His priorities as a commissioner include working towards environmental sustainability, ensuring diversity and inclusion in the workforce and contracting, and stopping human trafficking.

Ian Oates is the current Interim Associate Director of the Center for Korea Studies and the Program Coordinator for the Taiwan Studies Program at the University of Washington. Mr. Oates has held a variety of roles in international education and the non-profit sector, working as an elementary school educator in the Jeollanam-do and Chungcheongbuk-do provinces with the Republic of Korea’s National Institute for International Education and as a conservationist in his home state of Michigan. A former student with the Jackson School, he received his B.A. in German Studies from Northern Michigan University in 2013, and he received his M.A. in International Studies –Korea Studies from JSIS in 2021.

Geoff Potter is the Interim Director of International Relations and Protocol for the Office of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. Mr. Potter was previously the Operation Manager for the China Ocean Institute. Some of the additional roles Mr. Potter has held include Program and Policy Director for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, deputy campaign manager on Save Animals Facing Extinction, Senior Manager at New Partners Consulting, and research analyst for the Minnesota DFL. Mr. Potter holds an M.A. in applied international studies from the University of Washington and a B.A. in political science from Syracuse University