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Molecular scientst - Career Profile

  •  Name:Allan Campbell

  • Job:Molecular scientist

  •  Undergrad: Bsc (Hons.) Biology

  • Journey in 3 Words :Been very exciting!

  • Briefly describe your role

I am the influenza point of contact at the central laboratory in Sierra Leone. My role is to test routine surveillance samples using molecular techniques. I also report to the Ministry of Health and the world health organization (WHO).Currently I am the team lead working or CoVID-19 Testing at the Central Laboratory

  • How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your role?

Currently work with Influenza testing is on-hold .Overwhelmed with CoVID -19 response

  • What motivated you to pursue a career in science-

It was my strength in school and comes naturally. I am a very curious individual.

  • Work- Life Balance:

This is a difficult period for me.I hardly see some members of my family. I come home very late and by the time I wake up in the morning they’ve gone to work.As the team lead I have decide that if we get samples after 5 or keep it for the next day

  •  What advice would you give on picking universities

First know what career path you want to follow or if you are not certain then base it on your strengths and follow that direction as a guide to choosing a uni.In Sierra Leone there are limited options so it is easy to make a choice based on your career path.

Even with clear cut career paths, it is still difficult to choose. . In Sierra Leone,courses like Molecular Biology are not offered in any uni as of now.If thats what you want to do you would have to adjust according to availiability to avoid the problem and look into doing subject specific areas like Biology and Chemistry.

Its totally difficult out here to do what you really want to do.But that should not be a limitation.You can start someowhere and work your way to the desired goal.

  • What advice would you give anyone wanting to follow your career path

Firstly I must say Molecular Biology/Virology is a growing field. The CoVID-19. Pandemic has just shown how important laboratory science and the damaging effects of viruses and outbreaks, solidfiyng the role as a much needed one are . The good thing is the field is not crowded. So as some one wanting to pursue this role in Sierra Leone, you are a gem and when job opportunities come they do a direct man hunt and mostly when they reach out to you the job is already yours.

  •  Where do you see yourself in 5 years 

Firstly. Specializing in one discipline as. You may have observed in my responses, I love working with viruses so virology is my end goal and hopefully with aPhD.

Also I love to work more with Organizations that take health decisions like WHO,Africa CDC or US-CDC.Good thing for me. I am already currently living in my dream as currently work for Africa CDC(African Union)

  •  How do you feel the Science world has evolved throughout your career? ( what are some hard truths you have had to face?)

At the begining of my journey my options seemed limited but with two outbreaks in my career, i have been able to use my skills to help my country and pursue my passions. At u,niversity, I studied biology with limited opportunities for science in SL but then, when I graduated in 2014 and the Ebola epidemic came , it was an opening for me and an opportunity that allowed me to learn molecular skils and work during Ebola.With the skills i gained during this time I started Influenza testing and then became the Influenza Laboratory contact at the MoHS ( Ministry of Health). In this role I have represented the country in a lot of international meetings and conferences and also expanded the unit to incorporating non-Influenza viruses such as (RSV,HMPV etc).Because of my vast knowledge in respiratory viruses when the CoVID -19 pandemic came, i have also been a great asset to the team and a country with limited resources.

  • What is your biggest pet peeve about how the world perceives science 

Science is ONLY for smart people

  • Outside science how would you describe yourself ?

An adventurer.A risk taker that. This Has landed me into different business although I am still learning but, I have the same passion for business as I do for science.

  • Do you feel like scientist salaries reflect the amount of effort put in?

In the begining it may seem small but as you climb and get up the ladder it gets way better. Virolgy in particular is not acommon field, So at the top it pays very very well.


I hope this post inspires you to follow your passions and acknowledge that at every stage of your career will involve perseverance, consistency and discipline to help you achieve your desired goal. Never forget that “ no accomplishment is too small and no goal is too high”

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