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Biology Overview

Jinx Campbell

Assistant Professor
University of Southern Mississippi
Ocean Springs, MS 



BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Portsmouth, England, UK
PhD Molecular Phylogeny, University of Portsmouth, England, UK
Dr. Campbell teaches marine mycology, molecular marine biology, and molecular systematics to students in the field of Coastal Sciences.
"Never stop questioning, never stop looking for answers. Just because something is written doesn't mean there isn't a different opinion. Also remember that there is sometimes more than one correct answer to the same question."

What fields of biology do you work in?
Cox: Marine Mycology, Molecular Marine Biology

Q: When did you know you wanted to become a Biologist?
Cox: I always enjoyed biology at school.

Q: What was your college experience like?
Cox: I didn't go to college until I was 28 and a single parent of two children ages 1 and 5. It was an awesome experience and one in which I realized that if I believed in myself I could do anything. 

Q: Did you incorporate work experiences while you were an undergrad?
Cox: Yes. I had to work three jobs to support myself and my children while doing my degree full time.

Q: How did you get your first job?
Cox: I went straight to doing a PhD after my BSc. My first job was as a post doc which I got after meeting a professor at a professional meeting and discussing my PhD research with her. After my post doc I got my first "real" job as an Assistant Professor. There was no novel way in to that, just a lot of searching through adverts for a position I thought I would enjoy, in a place I wanted to live.

Q: What's the most rewarding thing about being a Biologist?
Cox: Discovering new pieces of the puzzle of life. They may be small things in the big scheme of things but all new facts have a place in unraveling our wonderful rich biological history. 

Q: Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you've worked on has positively impacted the world?
Cox: I'd like to think so, but probably more realistically I have only made an impact in my field of marine mycology. Marine fungi are distinct from terrestrial and freshwater fungi. Obligate marine fungi are those that grow and fruit exclusively in a marine or estuarine habitat and are permanently or intermittently submerged. Currently there are 444 known species of marine fungi. Recently the theory of a single evolutionary transition between marine and terrestrial fungi was rejected using molecular phylogenetic analyses. The majority of the marine fungi were found to belong in one family that had evolved from a terrestrial ancestor. Two other closely related families were further uncovered and found to have evolved from a more ancient terrestrial ancestor. I am proud to have been a part of this discovery.

Q: Do you spend a fair amount of time traveling?
Cox: As a student and post doc I spent more time travelling than I do now, but that is my decision. I leave most of the travelling for collecting new specimens to my students as it is such a fun part of research. It gives them the opportunity to travel that may not otherwise have. I travel now mainly to give presentations and go to meetings, which is also fun as I get to talk about my work and my great students.

Q: Do you have a mentor? Or did you in your college years?
Cox: I had several mentors in college. Unfortunately one of my lovely mentors died a few years ago, but I can still hear some of his wonderful quirky sayings that got me intrigued about marine fungi back as an undergraduate. My other main mentor was my advisor as a post doc. She was my springboard to becoming a professor. I still value her advice now.

Q: Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
Cox: Definitely in a team. My students are the main stay of my team, and then we join forces with other groups or teams so that we can work on bigger topics or be part of larger projects.

Q: Do you find you are able to balance work with social/family life while working in your current job?
Cox: Yes. My family is the most important part of my life. My job enables me to work during the week and during the day so that I get my evenings and weekends and holidays with my very precious family.

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still become a Biologist?
Cox: Yes. I cannot think of anything I would have done differently.

Q: Did you think that school prepared you for the way the work gets done in the real world?
Cox: I think as an Academic I am protected somewhat from the "real world" still. Working in academia is definitely different to working in industry. The salaries are higher in industry but I think you have to log many more hours and have a lot more responsibility.

Q: Where do you see jobs for Biologists in the future? What should students be doing to prepare themselves to take on those roles?
Cox: There are many roles for biologists and as such students need to be diverse in their thinking and in their college classes. They should try and be broad in their early years and only specialize later once they know in which direction they want to go. Being more general early on also offers students a peak into areas of biology that they may not have considered but actually find interesting once they try it.

Q: What other advice do you have for precollege students?
Cox: Never stop questioning, never stop looking for answers. Just because something is written doesn't mean there isn't a different opinion. Also remember that there is sometimes more than one correct answer to the same question.


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