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Celebrating our colleagues during British Science Week: Dr Jacqui McElhiney

Dr Jacqui McElhiney
Dr Jacqui McElhiney

During British Science Week we are celebrating our colleagues to demystify a variety of science-based roles at Food Standards Scotland. 

Today we're spotlighting our Head of Science Division, Dr Jacqui McElhiney.

Hello my name is Jacqui…

My life as a scientist started at Glasgow Caledonian University where I did my first degree in microbiology, and when I graduated back in 1994, I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do! My break came when I was offered a one year research contract in Aberdeen by a brilliant scientist who was just embarking on her career in academia. Moving to a new city as a laboratory scientist felt like a big leap into the unknown but that first step introduced me to a great role model and set me on the career path that led me to where I am today.

I joined the Civil Service back in 2002 after completing my PhD in environmental microbiology and then spending 5 years as a post-doc, working on the development of antibody based detection methods for algal biotoxins.

Before Food Standards Scotland was set up in 2015, I worked for the Food Standards Agency in Scotland for 12 years, firstly as a scientific advisor in food safety, and then as Head of Food Safety Policy.

Head of Science...what does that mean?

In my current role as Head of Science I manage 19 multidisciplinary scientists who are responsible for all of our research, surveillance and risk assessment activities relating to food safety and food authenticity. I also provide oversight for data science and social research support across all areas of Food Standards Scotland’s work to protect the food chain in Scotland and promote a healthy diet.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Working for Food Standards Scotland is fantastic - no two days are the same and I feel really lucky to be able to do a job where I am able to combine my 2 passions – food and science! I also work with great people including many women who are in leadership roles across the whole organisation-this includes Scientists, Vets, Environmental Health Specialists, Statisticians, Policy experts, and Communications and Marketing professionals.


Follow us on Twitter and Instagram during British Science Week as we celebrate more of our colleagues.