Dr. Alexis Campbell began her role as Science Bound’s first full-time director on October 2, 2017. Born and raised in Des Moines, she is a graduate of Iowa State University, where she received a B.S. degree in biology and Ph.D. in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology.
As a post doctoral student, Dr. Campbell was named a National Science Foundation Graduate STEM Fellow in K-12 Education and served in a year-long collaboration at Meredith Middle School. Her most recent role was serving as an Associate Scientist and Graduate Faculty member within the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology. She also served as the Director for Teaching-as-Research projects for ISU.
Dr. Campbell took time from her busy schedule recently to answer a few questions about her transition into the new role and to share what she envisions for the future of the program.
What attracted you to a career in STEM, and what are some of the greatest takeaways you’ve had thus far?
When I came to ISU I thought I’d be a medical doctor; since the time that I was young, I wanted to be a doctor. I even participated in medical missions trips in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. But when I came back my sophomore year, I started an NSF REU (research experience for undergraduates). I was paired with a faculty member in the biochemistry department, and I enjoyed doing the research. I then started my Ph.D. in his lab and kept going. I learned that within research you can give back to the community, just as I wanted to do as a medical doctor.
What has surprised you the most about working with Science Bound?
All of the different pieces that make up Science Bound. It takes passionate people to be able to make it happen. It’s beautiful and different than what I’ve experienced before. Science Bound is what makes Iowa State special.
What do you envision in terms of Science Bound’s future?
I think right now my primary focus is really understanding the whole program. Science Bound is very well-established. I’m the first full-time director, so probably the biggest change is that I’m able to be available all the time. Also, for the undergraduate program this semester we’ve really incorporated more STEM concepts, as well as within our high school leadership program.
What is one quote you live by?
I like being able to look at things that give you a sense of empowerment. The first [mantra jewelry band saying] I’ve got says, “she believed she could so she did.” Now I have, “let your light shine.”
What advice would you give to students as they take their “next steps” in STEM?
Be open to opportunities and communicate. Make sure that you go into any situation studied. Before you email or reach out to somebody, make sure that you know them and you’ve done your due diligence. In having those conversations, know who you are and believe in yourself as a scientist or engineer. Keep swimming.
Any final thoughts?
I think it’s important to know who you are and make sure that you’re doing what you need to do to make, or create, new and better situations for yourself. I’m excited to see what the next few years bring.