Dr Jessica Almine, 2022–23
Dr Jessica Almine
Jessica is a biochemist whose research has spanned from tissue engineering to viral-host interactions. Jessica was selected for the Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme where she was given insight into the inner workings of the UK parliament, the civil service and their engagement with academia and experts to develop evidence-based policies. Jessica is excited to apply her diverse experience and transferable skills to the realm of policy work.
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
My research was a combination of immunology, virology and molecular biology. Specifically, I was researching the molecular mechanisms and cell signalling pathways involved in the DNA sensing pathway. This pathway is triggered when DNA is detected in the cytoplasm by certain DNA sensors and it results in an immune response, such as the production of interferons. I was also researching viral strategies for immune evasion and understanding how viruses evade the host immune system to infect, persist and reproduce in host cells.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
My current role involves planning and managing the evaluation of a national partnership agreement so I’ve been relying heavily on my project management skills to ensure the project stays on track. The planning for an evaluation has overlap with planning a research project (for example, project timelines and resource management) and my research background has provided me with transferable skills to make a positive contribution in my role and to my team.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
The Science Policy Fellowship has given me a foot in the door into the public service and invaluable experience in policy development. There are many opportunities in the public service to be involved at different stages of the policy cycle; learn about different government and parliamentary processes; and work with a range of people with diverse backgrounds, experience and skills. Gaining first-hand experience in the important work done by dedicated public servants has inspired me to build a career in the public service and I hope to continue using current skills while gaining new skills, experiences and knowledge.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
I enjoy doing impactful work that has real-world implications where your decisions can contribute to improving outcomes for all Australians. Even though my work is only one small piece of a much larger puzzle, the public service is very collaborative and has a focus on teamwork where every contribution is valued. I also enjoy the variety in the work in policy evaluation, which at its core, has a lot of similarities to science and is an iterative process of improvement and finding what works best.