2020-21 Australian Science Policy Fellow: Angela

Angela, Department of Health

Headshot of Angela Mina-Vargas

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

Before the fellowship started, I was working on quantitative genetics and bioinformatics. I was performing analysis that helped to answer questions such as what the association between a gene and an illness is or what is the genetic risk of a mental disorder. To answer these kinds of questions, I used big data from genome-wide genotyping and data from phenotypic databases to perform analyses such GWAS and eQTLs analysis. In the past I also worked in plant genetics, evaluating molecular diversity, and evaluating evolutionary relationships in crops.

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

I am currently working in the Medical Benefits Division; this division of the Department of Health looks after policy related to the medical benefits schedule. In my second rotation I will be joining the Office of Health Protection where I will be working with policy related to antimicrobial resistance.

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

Research has taught me critical thinking, which is a skill applicable to everyday life and greatly applicable to a policy role where impartial decision making is essential.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

It has been only four months since I started so it is too early to really evaluate the impact of the fellowship program on my career aspirations. So far, I can say that I am becoming more aware of the many governmental spheres to which scientific knowledge is applicable and necessary.

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

I like that it is a role with a wide range of responsibilities, a workday can have many different demands; from answering a question raised by a member of the public to finding out what the prevalence of a genetic condition is, or to carrying out an analysis about utilisation of medical services. The variation in duties makes it interesting.