A Window on the Future of Diagnosis

University of Waterloo Professor Melanie Campbell’s self-belief drives her to innovation.

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Melanie Campbell is a Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo. We asked her everything from what inspired her to become a scientist to what advice she has for young researchers in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a scientist?
The excitement of discovery and the enthusiasm of the students and research staff who work with me is what I enjoy most. Also I am motivated by the knowledge that the research that we do has real impacts on people’s lives.

What do envision for the future of your field?
Novel imaging technologies are important to improved resolution in microscopy and improved diagnosis of tissue abnormalities in the living body.

With novel imaging techniques applied to the living eye, we will better understand the first events in many eye diseases. This is likely to lead to earlier and better treatments. The technology will also allow us to track, in individuals, the effects of therapies. Lastly, our ability to localize light precisely will allow us to develop new light based therapies.

In my work, we have also used the neurons at the rear of the eye as a window on what is happening in diseases like Alzheimer’s disease that damage neurons in the brain. I expect that, in the future, the eye will be used as a window onto the brain for other diseases.

What advice would you give young researchers?
Follow the path that interests and inspires you the most. Research can be difficult and frustrating, so a belief in what you are doing will get you through those hurdles. Always continue learning to improve the breadth of your knowledge, make connections between fields and keep up with the latest discoveries.

What do you read?
Politics and current events as well as detective novels.

What’s on your playlist?
I listen to classical music and attend concerts.

What do you like to do for fun?
I own a sailboat and enjoy getting completely away from phones and email. I also garden.

To learn more about Prof. Melanie Campbell, check out her R2R Orange Chair Interview.