Conrad studied at the University of Bonn and worked at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of the University of Bonn from 1999 to 2013, where his most recent position was that of Acting Director and where he still is Associated Member of the ZEF Directorate. Conrad started his academic career with studies on the impact of ethnicity on violent conflicts. Then, his research focused on themes such as politics of interventions, economies of violence and fragile states. More recently, he undertook extensive research on civil-military interactions, ungoverned spaces and the nexus between conflict and migration.
Conrad has given advice to German ministries as well as to GOs and NGOs such as GIZ, Concern and Welthungerhilfe.