Program Analyst, Office of Science & Engineering Laboratories
U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Silver Spring, MD
MS, Educational Technology, University of Arizona South, Sierra Vista, 2011; MIRLS, University of Arizona, Tucson, 2009
Photo by Stanford Barouh
Many new library professionals are pushing the boundaries of the profession through nontraditional roles. As a program analyst at the Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories (OSEL) in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Jessica Hernandez is one of them. “At a very basic level, I help to create systems and processes that capture, manage, and provide access to the information, data, and knowledge people need to do their jobs,” she says. “On some days, I’m an information architect or experience designer for a repository project; on others, I’m a project manager for a database development project; and on others, I’m my office’s data steward, helping to ensure data quality standards.”
Among the projects she’s managing is a pilot of Profiles Research Networking Software (RNS), an open source tool developed at Harvard University and in use at dozens of universities that is now making its trial run at a federal institution. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), it is a collaboration and evaluation tool that combines scientific social networking with research analytics to identify expertise, spur professional relationships, and “unharness collective intelligence,” Hernandez says.
“The evolution of Web 2.0 has turned social networking into serious business,” Hernandez says. “The potential is particularly promising in research and learning environments, where increased collaboration can drive productivity and innovation.”
Hernandez is also making connections among new librarians in the federal system with the “NewFeds” Working Group, which she and Aimee Babcock-Ellis, a project specialist at the NIH, cofounded in 2010, shortly after she joined the FDA. NewFeds supports the development and advancement of early career professionals in the Federal Library & Information Network (FEDLINK). “She is a networking queen,” says Babcock-Ellis. The group now has more than 120 members.
In 2011, Hernandez was named a “Rising Star in Government Information Technology” by Federal Computer Week.
“My work is exhilarating, and I have grown by leaps and bounds since making this potentially risky switch down the nontraditional path,” she says.