Abstract: In Lao PDR, the standard translation for policy is nanyubay. But this word is much older than contemporary definitions of policy as principles or courses of action followed by a party or organization. It has broader meanings of the help, incentives, and rewards extended by those who have some kind of power. This paper explores Lao concepts of policy through ethnography among scientists and policy makers in Laos. It describes research by Holly High (who will be presenting), Souphinh Vongphachanh, Vilaything Sisouvong, Souliyong Thammavongsa, and Hilary Smith, and includes comments on the particularities of doing research in COVID times.