Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meet Jackie Maffucci, PhD, Human Protections Research Scientist

Today we’re introducing you to New Voice, Jackie Maffucci, Human Protections Research Scientist who is working as a contractor for the military.

NV: What do you do?

Jackie: I am a contractor for the military. I work for an independent agency to supplement the government workforce. I have worked on three different contracts since starting here.

First, I worked in a policy office where I was focused on the policies providing health and medical support for the troops.

Then I was part of a project in which I worked directly with service members, helping to get them compensation for traumatic injuries.

Now I am working to provide oversight to the institutions within the Army that perform research using human subjects. I help ensure that the use of human subjects follows Department of Defense and Army regulations. Some of this work includes reviewing assurances (agreements between the research institutions and our office stating that they will follow these regulations) and human research protections plans (which outline how they are going to follow these regulations).

NV: What is the most exciting part of what you do?

Jackie: I like that I am helping service members on a daily basis. I really enjoy interacting with people because I feel in “real time” that I’m making a difference. When I correspond on a screen or on paper, I can’t vary my message to make sure that my audience is receiving it, but when I am directly interacting with someone, I can. There is an inherent reward in that.

NV: Who’s your role model?

Jackie: Mrs. Krueger, my eighth grade science teacher. She really encouraged me to pursue science even though I was leaning toward English. She helped me realize that a lot of what I loved about the humanities can carry over into science, like creativity. Science isn’t boring; it’s interactive and creative! Mrs. Krueger really made me recognize my potential.

NV: What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in advocacy and/or outreach?

Jackie: Just do it. Find a way to do it. There are some small things you can start with like writing a blog, or even making comments on other blogs. You can write an article about a subject you care about and submit it to a journal or a local newspaper. You can get involved with a scientific society; most have a policy board. Or you can get in touch with a member of Congress and volunteer to be involved in their science advising. There are plenty of opportunities out there, just find the time.

NV: What one thing would you change about the culture of science?

Jackie: I get the impression from my interactions with scientists that they think their role is to make the discoveries, but not necessarily to describe those discoveries to the public. But, if the scientists don’t take the time to explain the work, then the usefulness of their research gets lost in translation. Publishing is not where their job ends, it’s where their job begins. It’s the scientist’s duty to talk about the importance of their work and represent it honestly to the public and policy makers, as well as their colleagues.

Some of you may remember that Jackie was a regular blogger for New Voices from September 2009 through January 2010 - including the excellent From Ideas to Treatments series on clinical research. We thank Jackie for giving us some time to learn more about her current position and her passion for science and outreach.

This is part of the ongoing Profiling New Voices series.

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