2020-21 Australian Science Policy Fellow: Elaaf
Elaaf, Department of Education, Skills and Employment
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
In my research career I focused on Biochemistry and Computational Chemistry. My PhD project investigated how an enzyme activated a tuberculosis pro-drug using various computational tools. My last postdoc before I began the Science Policy Fellowship was working in the emerging area of electrostatic catalysis. I used computational chemistry techniques to model and simulate organic chemistry reactions and how they were catalysed by electric fields.
What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?
My placement for the Science Policy Fellowship is in the National Research Infrastructure Policy and Engagement team within the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Our team is currently developing the 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap which is the key policy document that identifies national research infrastructure needs for Australia for the next five to ten years.
How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?
The transferrable skills I developed around project management, critical thinking and analysis, and versatility and adaptability across diverse, complex areas have all been very helpful. In the context of the development of the Roadmap, having the versatility and ability to adapt has particularly proven useful as we need to get across a highly technical subject matter across a broad range of topics from the research sector.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
While I have had a growing interest in exploring public service and public policy over the last few years, participating in the Science Policy Fellowship program has helped me realise that it is something I can excel at and enjoy doing as a long-term career. Working in the APS has been extremely rewarding and interesting and I intend to explore this new career to the best of my abilities.
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
My favourite part of working in the APS and in policy is the direct impact that my work has and the contribution to the public good. Coming from a research background, it has also been interesting to see and contribute to the hard work that takes place behind the scene to enable Australian researchers and provide them the tools that they need.