Australia's Chief Scientist

Australian Science Policy Fellow: Roisin

What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?

The ability of bacteria to escape the action of current antibiotics (antimicrobial resistance) is a serious global health problem that threatens our ability to treat common infections and conduct routine medical procedures. I studied proteins in bacteria to understand their structure and how they contribute to bacterial infection. I used this information to support efforts to identify molecules that block their activity, with a long-term goal of developing new antibiotics.

What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?

I am in the Department of Health’s Medical Benefits Division, which works to support and improve access to medical services that are safe, clinically effective and cost effective.

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?

My experience in biomedical research is relevant to the health sector, but it is my training in evaluating evidence and critical thinking that has been the major asset for jumping into this policy role. Communication is a key skill too, so all the experience I’ve had writing and talking about my research has been invaluable.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

It has demystified what it means to work in government! Canberra is also a rather lovely spot to live, with many diverse opportunities for a fulfilling career in the wider science sector.

What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?

The steep learning curve. The role has challenged me to adapt quickly to a different way of working and thinking, and to rapidly develop a broad, new knowledge base. That’s been intense, but very fun.