Before beginning her teaching career, science teacher Shannon Campbell worked as a research scientist for Colgate Palmolive, to help develop new products for hygienic care.
Campbell was first introduced to the company while working on her master’s at the University of Illinois.
“Every year, Colgate would come and recruit there. I interviewed with them to practice because my background, while it was in chemistry, was more agricultural-focused, but they were on campus early so I thought I’d practice,” she said.
The company insisted she come out to New Jersey to work with them and Campbell accepted the offer.
Shortly after beginning her job, she conducted research for the company’s Oral Care product development. After two years of working in this department, Campbell was moved to Colgate’s Oral Pharmaceuticals where she researched toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
“I started off doing research of the literature and what had been done before, what products were out there and what technology they use. Then I looked at ways to improve the technology. I’d look at the cause of why people have sensitive teeth and find a way to help,” she said.
The process took three years of research, formulation and studies and then another year for manufacturing.
Campbell then moved on to the Men’s Speed Stick Ultimate Antiperspirant, which followed the same process and timeline as the previous project. She went on to renovate the whole line of Speed Stick Antiperspirant.
After living and working in New Jersey for 13 years, she and her husband moved to St. Louis because Campbell’s husband lost his job at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attack.
“I grew up in Wisconsin and my husband is from Chicago. We wanted to move back to the Midwest,” she said.
When Campbell moved to St. Louis, she began working at Steris, which manufactures cleaners. It wasn’t difficult for Campbell to catch up due to its similarity in chemistry and technology.
“I developed a product quickly but I just didn’t like it. It was a small group of people, who weren’t that good at science or research. The people I worked with at Colgate were amazing. I didn’t want to do a job that I didn’t enjoy because of the people,” she said.
This lack of passion in the work in this new place of work actually was what inspired Campbell to pursue teaching.
“The workers at Steris were all local, which made me think, ‘you know what, I should teach science.’ I decided to pursue teaching and went back to school to get my master’s in education,” she said.