You are here

Allison Campbell works at PNNL

Dr. Allison Campbell is the Associate Laboratory Director for Earth and Biological Sciences at PNNL. In this role, she sets the vision and strategy for PNNL's research in support of DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) and National Institutes of Health. Prior to this role, she served for more than 10 years as Director of EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE Office of Science User Facility sponsored by BER and located at PNNL. She is nationally recognized for individual contributions in materials development through her research in biomaterials, including co-inventing a bio-inspired process to "grow" a bioactive calcium phosphate layer, from the molecular level, onto the surfaces of artificial joint implants for hips and knees; these implants now have extended lives and are less likely to be rejected by the body. Allison also is recognized for her work in understanding the role of proteins in biomineralization. She's spoken at national and international meetings and holds six U.S. patents.  Allison earned her PhD in physical chemistry from State University of New York at Buffalo and a BA in chemistry from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

What inspired you to work in STEM?

My parents both were in science. My dad was a surgeon and my mom worked in a cancer lab. As a child, I would spend time at my mom’s lab watching her work.They’d talk about their work at home and I grew up comfortable with that language and understanding the scientific endeavor. I was inspired by them to want to have an impact on people and the things around me. When I was introduced to chemistry in college by a professor who was able to put the science into terms I easily understood, I started to blossom and gravitate towards a career in science.

What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

Working at a National Laboratory means being a part of something bigger than yourself. The diversity of science coupled with helping to address large complex problems in energy, environment and health areas is very exciting. Working at a DOE National Lab allows researchers such as myself to work across the spectrum of fundamental to applied science.

How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

We need to highlight role models and show how STEM solves our nation’s critical challenges. STEM careers are exciting and rewarding, and we need to bring that to the forefront. Each year, we support PNNL’s Take Our Kids to Work Day event and it’s exciting to see the kids tour our laboratory and learn about the science. The energy in the lab is just overwhelming on those days. It’s exciting to witness firsthand.

Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Do what excites you. Recognize that it takes effort and at times will not be easy. That is okay. Ask for help. Stretch yourself and round yourself out. My bachelor’s degree was a bachelor of arts, not science. That actually allowed me to be exposed to ways of thinking and courses that my peers who became scientists may not have had. It helped me build stronger presentation and writing skills, both of which can make a difference to a scientist submitting proposals and to becoming a leader of such a facility.

When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

I cycle, fish and spend time with family. I am an avid cyclist.  I ride at least 7000 miles a year and like to challenge myself with rides that are over 100 miles long or rides that focus on hill climbing.


Learn more about our programs & resources for women and girls in STEM at