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.