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Professor Eleanor Campbell FRS

Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Image provided by Eleanor Campbell

Thanks to the EU, I never had any problems or difficulties. I am very concerned with what impact Brexit will have on the ease and advantages of mobility between countries.


Professor Eleanor Campbell FRS pursued her research interests around the world, moving from posts in the UK to Germany, to Sweden, then back to the UK where she is now Chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. In this time, she has also had visiting positions in South Korea, the USA, and Japan. Reflecting on her time abroad, Eleanor explains; "Had I not moved to Germany when I did, I would not have had access to the funds and infrastructure needed to carry out the research that quickly provided me with a reputation that then supported a successful independent career."

When she completed her PhD in the UK in the mid-eighties, Eleanor’s research area - fundamental chemical reaction dynamics - was not well funded and there were very few opportunities; “To do the research I found most exciting, Germany or the USA were the best options.” She settled on Germany, having studied German at school, and took advantage of the Royal Society’s European postdoctoral fellowship scheme; “Having the language gave me the confidence to go to continental Europe and I was involved in exciting times as my later move to East Berlin happened just after German reunification.” 

After five years at the research institute in the former East Germany, Eleanor decided to move back to a university environment; “The first full professorship I was offered was in Sweden, so I moved there. Ten years later, the opportunity arose for me to return to the UK. This mobility has enabled me to work in different research areas. It certainly influenced me as a person and has probably greatly influenced how I deal with people and challenging situations."

Eleanor has reservations about what the future has in store; “Thanks to the EU, I never had any problems or difficulties. I am very concerned with what impact Brexit will have on the ease and advantages of mobility between countries.” She believes the UK system would benefit from more funding to provide opportunities for postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers to travel for short periods; “In Sweden there was generous funding available to set up bi- or tri-national research consortia with funding for workshops and travel money to allow students, postdocs and staff to undergo exchanges for 1-6 months. This encouraged the formation of new international collaborations and allowed early career researchers to experience different cultures.”

Explore a timeline of Eleanor's career