Evelyn Campbell has big plans for her future. From receiving her PhD to mentoring young students studying science, Evelyn wants to be an inspiration to the next generation and change the field of science for the better.
One of the first Forman Scholars of the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation, Evelyn graduated from Rider University in 2016. She is now furthering her education as a third year PhD student at the University of Chicago studying microbiology. After a long road of exams, research and proposals, she was recently accepted as a PhD candidate and is one step closer to receiving her doctorate.
Evelyn’s thesis delves into discovering the effects of the microbiota on the development of food allergies and intestinal inflammation. She chose to study this topic because she wants to know how bacteria play a role in disease and health.
“It’s interesting that such small organisms can play a big part in our lives,” Evelyn said. “Food allergies have become a lot more prevalent in the last few decades, and it’s not really known how bacteria may contribute to them.”
Evelyn hopes this research can help develop therapy and/or treatment for allergies. Currently, she says there are no viable treatments for people with food allergies besides simply avoiding ingestion of and contact with the allergen. If there was a solution and a treatment that allowed people to eat whatever they are allergic to, she can only imagine how many lives would be changed.
When she first entered her program, Evelyn was not sure if she would pursue academia after her PhD, but after three years of seeing what her field “looks” like, her plans have changed.
“The sciences and higher education are not very diverse,” Evelyn said. “I want to be able to help promote diversity in the sciences and create a more inclusive environment for scientists to collaborate and do better science.”
Evelyn believes it is crucial to have better representation of people from all walks of life in the field so they can inspire the next generation of scientists.
“If they see people just like them achieving great things,” she says, “they’ll believe they’re just as capable.”
As one of the first Forman Scholars and a PhD candidate, Evelyn also wants to be accessible and act as a mentor to the newer Forman Scholars. She is so grateful for the assistance of the program in completing her college education and loves how the Foundation keeps a strong network by connecting the older scholars with the younger scholars.
“It is so important to be able to see people who come from the same background as you doing great things,” Evelyn said. “Dr. Acton has had a great community impact by extending educational opportunities.”
Offering advice for the newer Forman Scholars just starting college, Evelyn stresses the necessity of having a strong network of support. Undergraduate studies can be stressful, she mentions, with schoolwork, classes and extracurriculars taking up so much time. But having a community to go to for support and guidance can go a very long way.
“Whether it is an affinity group, a friend group or others in your classes, being involved and surrounding yourself with like-minded people is one of the most important things,” Evelyn said. “Having a community you can go to for support when things get tough is essential.”