Sheila Campbell 1When asked to describe a well-balanced meal, most people shrug their shoulders and mumble something about vegetables. For Sheila Campbell, PhD, RD, a good meal is much more than the food on a plate: it’s the perfect balance between science and art.

A 1979 graduate of UAB’s Dietetic Internship and Master’s program in Nutrition Sciences, Campbell spent over thirty years practicing clinical nutrition and managing medical nutrition communications. Now happily retired, she runs her own food tourism business, A La Carte Food Tours, in Columbus, Ohio. “When I retired, I wanted to return to the beauty and sensuality of food,” she explains.

Campbell began her journey with a B.S. in home economics, but quickly realized she didn’t want to be a teacher. “So I went to Jacksonville State University to fulfill the educational requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”

She soon made her way to UAB’s School of Health Professions, spurred by earth-shattering developments in nutrition sciences. “Dr. Charles Butterworth had just published an eye-opening exposé called ‘The Skeleton in the Hospital Closet,’ which blew the cover off patients suffering malnutrition during hospitalization,” Campbell recalls. “Dr. Butterworth was at UAB, so I set off to learn all I could from him and the rest of the faculty.”

Over the course of her 30-year career, Campbell authored more than 70 publications on scientific, clinical, and medical topics, and has presented nearly 60 domestic and international workshops and lectures. She spent the first part of her career in nutrition support, followed by a seventeen-year run as Manager of Medical Communications for Abbott Nutrition.

“That was about as far from a home cooked meal as you could get,” she jokes.

When she retired, Campbell seized the opportunity to unite her career in nutrition with her old passion for food. “I decided to renew my relationship with the culinary arts. I made a trip to Costa Rica and experienced some wonderful adventures there.  I wanted to share the adventures with other foodies and, voila, A La Carte Food Tours was born! I take guests on 3-hour food tours in the Columbus, Ohio area and 7-day international culinary programs. I’ve lead culinary tours to Costa Rica and Isla Cozumel for the last 4 years.  I have plans for Tasting Tours to Burgundy, France next year and then on to Barcelona, Spain and Florence, Italy.”

Campbell advises UAB students to work hard and keep an open mind.

“Never miss the opportunity to learn something new, because you never know when you will have a use for it. Use your youthful energy to build your professional creds. It’s hard to believe, but you will slow down eventually. It’s great to get the uphill work behind you early, because that’s what enables you to REALLY contribute in your dotage."