Meet the AFBI Scientist - Dr Claire Jack

This month Claire Jack – Agricultural and Food Economics Branch talks about her role in AFBI

I graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Economics. I then worked in banking before returning to Queen’s to undertake my PhD in Agricultural Economics.  I joined the Agricultural and Food Economics branch in AFBI in 2005.  I currently lead the micro-modelling section within economics.

My research is focused around two main areas aimed at informing agriculture and rural development policy; namely family farm household decision-making and rural well-being.

My current areas of research include developing skills within the land based and rural sectors, rural entrepreneurship and innovation and farm and rural dwellers’ quality of life and well-being.

More recently my team and I have become involved in policy evaluation, where we are undertaking research to evaluate the Farm Business Development Group scheme; CAFRE’s new approach to farm-level advisory services in Northern Ireland, under the current Rural Development Programme.

People often ask me why I am interested in research to inform economic policy development.  On reflection, it is that desire to contribute (even in a small way) to how government can add to and improve societal well-being. Dame Minouche Shafik, in a recent edition of Desert Island Discs, expressed it much more succinctly when she said, ‘talent is evenly spread around the world but opportunities are not and effective economic policies are about spreading opportunities to others’.

Interesting facts about Claire Jack:

What is the last book you read?
In terms of contemporary writers, I really enjoy Ian McEwan’s novels. I have just finished re-reading Atonement.

Do you have a pet?  If so, what is it and what is its name?
Yes, two dogs. Ruby a twelve-year-old golden Labrador who seems to now enjoy sleep more than walks and Hugo, a two-year-old field spaniel who wants to walk and walk and walk. They now have to be walked separately!

What are your hobbies?
Apart from walking the dogs, as a mother of three teenagers my main hobby of late has been confined to providing a taxi service to take them to their various hobbies! However, I am looking forward to developing a few hobbies of my own in the not too distant future.

What unique fact do we not know about you?
In my first job after graduation while interviewing someone in relation to a mortgage application, I asked “What do you do for a living”, “play football” he replied.  I said, “but what is your real job?” It was Ally McCoist. Thankfully, he laughed and was quite forgiving of my lack of knowledge of Scottish Premiership footballers at that time!

What is your favourite restaurant?
Donegal has long been a place for regular family holidays, so I would have to say, the Glen Bar Restaurant in Donegal; aside from the good food it brings with it lots of family memories.