What is a Reedie, Anyway? (continued)

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Austin Campbell

“When you plant a seed, you never know if and how it’s going to grow. It’s sort of like thesis and life in that way. You just have to wait and see what happens”

Austin Campbell


Hometown: Inglewood, California

Adviser: David Dalton

Thesis:Allelopathic effects of western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)

What it’s about: Western junipers, like most trees in the pine family, leach secondary metabolic compounds into the soil and air. These compounds have a whole range of effects, including reducing seed germination and protecting the trees from bacteria and herbivory (i.e., being eaten).

What it’s really about: Why western juniper is taking over Eastern Oregon and threatens commercial ranching.

Who I was when I got to Reed: I wanted to get to know everyone and see everything. I was definitely more immature. I tried to impress people when I got here, but I quickly learned that people want to get to know you for the real you.

Influential book:City of Walls by Teresa Caldeira. It talks about home defense as an essential signature of wealth.

Favorite spot: The greenhouse. It’s the warmest place on campus and it’s beautiful at night.

Cool stuff I did: Student body vice president. Treasurer. Ism. Peer mentor. House adviser. Admission intern.

Random thoughts: The Reed biology department is amazing because of its ability to invigorate students with passion for science and individual exploration. As an undergraduate, you can design independent projects from ideas that you get in the lab. Reed has given me the ability to pursue ideas in other fields, so my education hasn’t just been focused on science. I’ve definitely benefited from financial aid, and I thought it was proper to give back. I gave to the Reedies for Reedies fund. Reed fundamentally changed the way I view the world and analyzed things. It’s a great school, a great institution. I’ve learned a lot here and I think it’s important to give back, to give other students who couldn’t afford it the opportunity to come here.

How Reed changed me: Before coming to Reed, I viewed the world as a collection of disjointed entities. I was worried only about my day-to-day grind, like whatever I did was really important. Reed has made me more aware of the world around me. It’s not just about me, it’s about engaging with people, connecting to people of different backgrounds. Reed makes you think critically and teaches you never to accept one answer as the right answer. Challenge that answer and keep challenging that answer until you find your own truth. My time on senate taught me a lot about how to be a leader, how to take feedback, and getting in touch with the issues people have. Sometimes people will say they have an issue with something, but there’s often an issue beyond the issue.

What’s next: I am going to Greece to work as a counselor for a residential school.