In June of 2015, Dr. Jessica Reusch began her postdoctoral fellowship at Moffitt Cancer Center working in Dr. Ken Wright’s lab. During her time as a Moffitt postdoc, she was heavily involved in extracurriculars. Dr. Reusch actively participated in the Moffitt Postdoctoral Association, volunteered with Moffitt’s Government Affairs office to speak with state and national lawmakers about the biomedical research going on at Moffitt, mentored an undergraduate student in Dr. Wright’s lab to gain teaching and leadership skills, and attended the many career development seminars and workshops held by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. "My time as a postdoc at Moffitt was very instrumental in preparing me to obtain and succeed in an AAAS Science & Technology Fellowship position," states Dr. Reusch.
During the yearlong assignment in Washington, DC, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows are taught about policymaking in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government. For Dr. Reusch, it was life-changing. She states, "It provided me a clear pathway to transition careers from bench science to science policy. AAAS Fellows are highly regarded in government, so that allowed me to immediately be taken seriously and thrown into exciting and intense work. By the time I began job hunting in the second year of my fellowship, I found I was being sought out by hiring offices just as much as I was seeking them, which really speaks to how well the fellowship prepared me for gaining my next position."
Currently, Dr. Reusch is working as the Genomics Lead in the Policy Office at the All of Us Research Project at NIH. Her main areas of focus are policy needs and issues around genomics research, return of genomics research results to participants, and informed consent. This past spring, the program launched a consent process for participants to choose whether they would like their genomic research results back or not. This fall, Dr. Reusch and her team will begin the process of returning research results to participants who want them. "I have been part of a fantastic team of people from all different disciplines who have worked together to make this happen," said Dr. Reusch.
Dr. Reusch handles a high volume of fast turn-around projects that are different every day and every week and she is constantly learning something new and being pushed to expand and improve her skills. She said that learning how to multitask during her postdoc at Moffitt was helpful for her current position, "My postdoc expanded the types of tasks I was doing beyond the bench, e.g., project planning and management, hosting meetings, mentoring, writing, networking, and a lot more email writing, and demanded that I learn to juggle those with my wet lab experiments."
When asked if she had any words of advice for our current trainees, Dr. Reusch said, "Don’t neglect your professional development. There will always be more experiments to run. Make time to learn about new career avenues, talk with new people, and take a class or volunteer to learn something different."