Mary K. Campbell is a biophysical chemist whose areas of interest include researching the physical chemistry of biomolecules, specifically, spectroscopic studies of protein-nucleic acid interactions. This work involves ultraviolet absorption, fluorescence, and circular dichroism; dozens of students have assisted with Campbell's research during her 36-year tenure at Mount Holyoke College.
Campbell, who held the title Virginia Apgar Class of 1929 Professor of Chemistry, taught courses in nearly all the subspecialties of chemistry. She also developed and taught an experimental biochemistry course for first-year students, though the subject is usually studied by more advanced students. Her service to the College and to the chemistry department included several terms as department chair and work on major committees.
With Shawn O. Farrell (Colorado State University), Campbell is the coauthor of Biochemistry, now in its eighth edition. The textbook, which has become a standard in the field, has been translated into a number of languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese. She is also part of the writing team that periodically updates General, Organic, and Biochemistry, the textbook launched by Fred Bettelheim and widely used by students in health-related fields.
Campbell retired from Mount Holyoke in 2004.