Even before they worked at Johns Hopkins, mother and daughter Robin Carlson and Eve Carlson felt connected to the institution.
Robin was just 14 when she came to know the Carlson family—that of Johns Hopkins biophysicist Francis D. Carlson. She was dating his son Kirk. The couple later celebrated their 1987 wedding on the Homewood campus, in Decker Gardens. Their daughter, Eve, remembers playing in those gardens during her own childhood and eating family dinners at the Hopkins Club.
Today, Johns Hopkins is the workplace for both mother and daughter. Robin is an administrative manager at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; Eve is an engagement specialist in the university's Benefits & Worklife Office.
For the inaugural edition of our new Family Snapshots series, the two Carlsons sat down with Hub at Work to talk about their Hopkins overlaps.
Robin: My husband's father, Dr. Francis "Spike" Carlson, was a longtime Johns Hopkins professor, part of the faculty group that started the Department of Biophysics in the 1950s. So my husband grew up with the university as part of his life.
Kirk and I started dating in high school, and I would visit their home in Mount Washington and go to the faculty club with his parents. I always thought Hopkins was fantastic. After my kids were older, I thought it would be great to work here.
Eve: I always felt connected to Johns Hopkins. I remember walking along the edge of the little pond in Decker Gardens when I was very young. I also remember going to dinner at the Hopkins Club with my grandparents and parents, and playing pool there with my dad and brother as I got older.
I also have summer memories from Woods Hole in Cape Cod, where my grandfather was doing research at the Marine Biological Laboratories. He died when I was 7, but the family continued going up there, and I went to science camp there, so I did feel connected to him every summer.
Robin: We called my father-in-law Pops. He was a brilliant man, and well-loved. The doctor I work for now, Dr. Drew Mark Pardoll, knew my father-in-law as one of his professors.
After [Pops'] death [in 1997], our family established the Francis D. Carlson Lectureship at Hopkins in his honor. We set up a fund, and every year the Department of Biophysics brings in a prominent scientist to speak. We like to attend when we can.
Work at Hopkins
Robin: I've been at the Kimmel Cancer Center since 2009, when I started as an administrative coordinator in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies. The next year I moved just two floors up to work in Cancer Immunology and later became administrative manager of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy when it was established in 2016.
Under Dr. Pardoll, the director of Cancer Immunology and the BKI, I feel like I'm supporting research that is important to our mission of curing cancer. I enjoy coming to work each day with that goal in mind.
Eve: I've been at Hopkins for about three years, including an internship. In Benefits & Worklife, I run the Milestone Recognition program, which honors employees when they reach five, 10, 15, etc. years. The most well-known event is the recognition dinner the JHU president attends each summer for staffers who have hit 20 or more years.
Other programs I help oversee include the Fall Fest staff appreciation event—this year we're having it at the Baltimore Zoo on Oct. 12—and the Adopt-a-Family and Adopt-a-Senior programs during the holiday seasons. I also help with the Baby Shower program.
Like mother, like daughter
Eve: I think that though our jobs are different, they're both rooted in caring about people. I think I inherited my extroversion from my mom where I feel comfortable and confident bringing people together.
Robin: We both have degrees in psychology, and master's degrees—mine in business administration, hers in social work. I think I've always aspired to leadership positions in whatever job I've been in, and I feel that Eve is on the same track. When you're a mom, I guess you see that.
Crossover Hopkins moments
Robin: This June, to mark my 10 years at Hopkins, I attended a Milestone Recognition event Eve organized through her job.
Eve: Another program our office runs is the Martin Luther King Day of Service, an opportunity for Hopkins employees to volunteer in the community. A couple years ago, my mom came to the site I was overseeing—we both had a day with Art With a Heart in Hampden. So yeah, she's always been very supportive of the initiatives my office has done.
Robin: Eve also helped bring a person from her office into mine, to talk about all the benefits Worklife offers. I thought that overview would be helpful because a lot of people here just don't realize all the discounts and assistance available to them as Hopkins employees.
I was in the audience when Eve performed at Hopkins' Got Talent in December 2018. She and her colleague Greg Burks took top prize with a duet of "Shallow" from A Star is Born. It was a proud moment for me to see Eve combine her work and singing talents!
Eve: I grew up with my family—mom, dad, younger brother—in Towson. Now my mom and dad are still there, and I live in Hampden.
Robin: We still see each other a lot. We're a close family.
Both Eve and I really enjoy musicals. Eve did musical theater in college and is still involved in it. This year we got season tickets together to the Hippodrome. We just saw Hamilton.
Eve: We also like watching Project Runway together, and going out to dinner. We'll eat together as a family at least once a week.
Do you and another family member both work for JHU? Or do you know of any related duos? We'd love to hear from you so that we can share more personal stories with the university community. Please drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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