Andrew Campbell, Ph.D.

A.Campbell_mainTell us about your current career position.
I am currently a tenured Associate Professor of Medical Science in the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. My research interest lies in the area of host-pathogen interactions with an emphasis on emerging microbial pathogens. My other interests lie in program building and supporting under-represented students. My experiences as a graduate student and graduate program director are the things that led me to run the Brown IMSD (Biomed Initiative to Maximize Student Development) program.

What are the key experiences and decisions you made that have helped you reach your current position?
As a graduate student and a postdoc, I had the opportunity to work for individuals who held academic positions and also ran their own highly successful companies.  Based on this exposure, I made a conscious choice to go into academia at a time when I could have just as easily gone into industry. Although industry and academia offered great research opportunities, academia offered me something that biotech did not – the opportunity to teach and play a formal role in program building and producing the next generation of scientific leaders. I am committed to thinking about tomorrow’s scientists and scientific product and try to avoid short-sighted vision.

How did you first become interested in science?
I used to play the piano and enjoyed the challenge of composing musical pieces. Science, music and writing require creativity and imagination.  They all teach you to think in the abstract – to be imaginative and creative.  The transition to science and scientific theories just seemed like a logical extension.

Were there times when you failed at something you felt was critical to your path?  If so, how did you regroup and get back on track?
Absolutely.  I regroup when I learned a big lesson.  It is important to learn from failures and mistakes.  Don’t let the fear of failure stand in your way of getting something done. About half of the things that are important to success, I learned through failure and regrouping. 

What advice would you give to young persons from under-represented backgrounds who want to pursue a career in science similar to yours?
Find a protégé – teach someone more junior than you the things you know – especially the things you’ve learned about how to succeed and how to handle failure.  These things are called the “secrets to success” because you don’t learn them in class, in the lab or on the job. People always tell you to find a mentor, but to me that’s like asking a child to find a responsible parent.

What are your hobbies?
Playing tennis, golfing, kayaking and running. 

What was the last book you read?
“Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan. It’s a collection five short-stories about the lives of African Children.

Do you have any heroes, heroines, or role models? If so, describe how they have influenced you?
My mother – she’s my mother. David Blackwell – he’s a role model and you have to read about him.

What is it that keeps you working hard and studying science every day?
The wonders and benefits of discovery-driven science and research, and the desire to share my experience with others.

Dr. Andrew can be reached at Andrew_Campbell@Brown.EDU.
Dr. Andrew's webpage.