A quick Q&A with Dr Campbell Fraser


Dr Campbell Fraser

Griffith University, Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Senior Lecturer, Dr Campbell Fraser discusses his career, research tips and organ trafficking.

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
At the age of 4, growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I wanted to be a “bin man”, what would now be known as a refuse collector. The reason – the Glasgow “bin men” drove around in big blue trucks. I befriended my local bin men and they used to take me with them on their rounds – so every Thursday I got to ride in the big blue truck. Would never be allowed now!

2. Tell us about a previous job (work experience/volunteer work) that you’ve had.
My first job was as a sausage maker. I worked with some really interesting characters in that job –  a real education!  From there I went into banking, before going on to uni full time.

3. Which 3 apps do you use the most on your mobile device?
The BBC news– that is where I first go to in the morning when I wake up, Gmail app, and Washington Post – I am now an avid follower of US politics since the 2016 election result.

4. Which 5 celebrities would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
I’d love to see what great leaders of the past would make of today’s politicians. So I would have Winston Churchill, Robert Menzies and Mahatma Gandhi on one side of the table, with Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte on the other. Now that would make an interesting dinner party!

5. Tell us about your favourite fictional character.
Simon Templar – AKA “The Saint”, by Leslie Charteris. A great series of adventure novels adapted for TV in the 1960s. Escapism at its best.

6. What’s the best thing about your current role?
Without a doubt, it is the people I get to meet.  By investigating organ trafficking, I have the privilege to work with some amazing people – people who save lives day in, day out. Often working on a shoestring budget in some of the poorest and dangerous areas of the world; these are truly remarkable people.

7. What sparked your interest in human/organ trafficking?
A few years ago, I had kidney failure and spent a year on dialysis before I received the ultimate gift of a donor kidney. I met a number of people involved in the international organ trade at this time, and as they say, one thing led to another…

8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would be very happy if I am still able to do exactly what is I am doing now.  My colleagues and I have made major progress in the fight against human trafficking, but much work remains to be done.

9. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
This year, I was invited by the Pope to the Vatican to present my work, and this has led to several invitations to speak around the world. While these are certainly highlights, the biggest highlight has been knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of some of the poorest people on our planet.  That is more important than anything else.

10. Tell us about your current research.
I’m currently investigating the links between organ trafficking in the Middle East and terrorism funding. I am working in collaboration with colleagues from the US government in Washington DC. This is taking my work in a whole new direction.

11. What wise advice do you have for new researchers?
Follow your nose and see where it leads you. Try to find a topic that is poorly understood, and that will maximise your scope. Never give up. If your research topic is important to you, then it is important, regardless of what others may tell you.

12. What’s the best resource you’ve discovered in your Griffith University Library?
Online journal access has fundamentally changed the way academics work. I can now be in a village in the Philippines and access the Griffith Library by VPN on my device. This is a huge timesaver. Griffith Library has online access to a vast number of journals relevant to my work, and I wouldn’t be able to function without it.

13. Can you give us your 3 best research tips

  • Be very cautious of information you find online – I would say probably 75% of reports of organ trafficking found online is false, and is written to promote political objectives. I always make sure I meet the people involved so I can obtain the information at the source. Understand the difference between truths, and reports which are based on a true story!
  • Remain courteous and professional when conducting investigations. On occasions, I have had to interview people-traffickers and their brokers, and no matter how much disgust I have for them, I have to keep a professional demeanour.  Always take the high road, you never know when you might need someone’s help in the future. You want to show Griffith University in a good light!
  • Always think of ways to increase your audience. The media is a great way to bring your research findings to a wider range of people who don’t read academic journals. Think about what would make a great story – and learn how to pitch it to journalists. This will increase the impact of your research, and get you noticed. Journalists are always on the lookout for exciting stories that their readers are likely to click on!


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