Alexandra Jones: International Women's Day 2019 Profile

Lawyer and public health researcher Alexandra Jones traded the promise of a career in a large corporate firm to use law to promote public health, joining The George Institute for Global Health four years ago.

Alexandra’s decision to study law was always driven by a desire to practise in the public interest. Her path to global health came after a year advocating for human rights in Cambodia, and a subsequent Master’s degree that fused law and public health in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve worked on HIV/AIDS and tobacco control, but to me, food is the next wave. Unlike tobacco, we need it to survive, but unhealthy diets also kill a huge number of people.”

Part of Alexandra’s work involves advocacy in both the private and public domains, including extensive media outreach, to try to change the way the law is used to regulate the food environment.

“It’s not about strengthening the ‘nanny state’, it’s just about resetting the default to make it easier for individuals to make good food choices.”

Alexandra’s wish list for the research agenda in the coming years would be more work that delivers health benefits while simultaneously addressing things like climate change.

“Food is key to this – from agricultural practices all the way through to how we package and dispose of food - we could redesign our food system so that it supports our health and our environment.”

For Alexandra, this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #Balanceforbetter, reminds her that we all do better when we create conditions which allow everyone the same chance to rise.

“I think balance is about equity – giving everyone what they need to be successful – not equality, which is treating everyone the same.”

“Personally, at this point near the completion of my PhD, balance simply means finding time to both enjoy the deep thinking of my write up, as well as time to be outside in nature on my bike.”

Read more from Alexandra on Twitter at @alikjones