A pharmaceutical sciences student from Suwanee, Ransom Jones always knew he wanted to work in medicine and be a medical inventor. His brother was born with severe cerebral palsy, which has been instrumental in Jones’ commitment to eradicate diseases and improve the overall quality of life through new medicines.
Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
Degree objective: B.S/M.S. pharmaceutical sciences
Expected graduation: Spring 2022 and spring 2023 respectively
Other degrees: Minor in biology
What’s unique about you:
My brother was born with severe cerebral palsy. As a consequence of this, I have from a very young age wanted to “be a medicine inventor” as I used to put it and contribute to advancing modern medicine. I am so grateful that at the University of Georgia I was able to find a major and a pathway to fulfill that lifelong dream.
I currently work as a research assistant in the College of Pharmacy Drug Discovery lab, led by David Chu and Uma Singh. In my lab, we are doing novel carbocyclic nucleotide analog synthesis for antiviral and anticancer purposes. This summer and fall, I received the CURO assistantship, which on top of providing financial aid, will give me a platform in the spring to present my work and results.
I have gained so much experience and confidence in my ability to work as a scientist. Multi-step synthesis is a complex process. Through my experience, I have completed hard multi-step reactions, utilized complex analytical techniques and instruments, learned how to interpret and report data, among countless other things. My learning has gone beyond the lab. I was introduced to academic articles and databases where I have been able to read advancements in drug discovery, breakthroughs in medicine, and other scientific achievements. Through the lab, I have begun writing my own review paper focused on advancements in drug discovery.
How did you decide to come to UGA?
The tour of the campus that I took in high school made me fall in love with the school. North Campus was absolutely gorgeous, and walking around Tate and the Miller Learning Center showed me all the different types of people attending UGA. I always wanted to go to a big school, and UGA felt massive. I also loved downtown Athens both in the day and at night. The small shops, local eateries and nightlife make it a great college town.
How did you choose your major?
Originally, I majored in biochemistry to go to medical school. From a young age I knew I wanted to work in medicine and medical school seemed like the logical answer. However, my freshman year, I took Organic Chemistry 1 and I really enjoyed it and understood it deeper than I understood normal Chemistry. I chose pharmaceutical sciences to work with, as I call it “Applied” Organic Chemistry. Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Drug Development, all of these courses work with organic compounds and use them to benefit the body. On top of this, pharmaceutical science teaches all aspects of the industry, broadening my job possibilities.
What is your favorite class you’ve taken?
My freshman year odyssey class was about Freedom of Speech and what that means. Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what it was even about, and it turned out to be a very engaging class that poked at hard to answer questions involving whether certain speech is and should be “free.” The class was led by Charles Davis, the dean of Grady College of Journalism. His lectures and real-world examples changed my perspective on what speech was, the effects it had on society, and how we should go about regulating it. I did not look forward to taking a random class my freshman year that had nothing to do with my major, but I am so grateful that I did.
What has surprised you about UGA or defied your expectations?
It really surprised me that despite going to a massive university, the majority of my professors are reachable via email and office hours if necessary. On top of this, many of them form personal connections with you if you reach out and they often genuinely care if you understand the material. Coming to UGA I assumed I would just be a face in the crowd since it is such a large school, but even in my large lecture classes freshman year I knew my professors and many of them knew me by name. On top of this, as I got into my major courses there was a sense that the professors wanted us to understand and enjoy the class. They weren’t just teaching it so we could pass the test, but they taught in the hopes that we would enjoy the subject.
What are your UGA highlights?
- My sophomore year at UGA, I got a job at Starland Pizza in downtown Athens. As funny as it might sound, this basic serving job was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. I got involved in downtown life, made friends with my co-workers, and got to cheer the Dawgs on during every football game while serving the fans pizza. Being a part of not only the school community but also the UGA fan community and the Athens local community really changed how I saw Athens. There is something special about working with people who don’t go to UGA, or aren’t students, or maybe graduated 10 years ago with a common love for the Bulldawgs. You also bond with those who go through the same ridiculous and weird experiences you go through as a server.
- Living on campus freshman year in Creswell was an amazing college experience. I always left my door open to meet people who were walking by and say hello to my neighbors. My friends and I would crowd into the tiny rooms at night and play FIFA for hours, meeting new people and staying up into the morning even if we had 8 a.m. classes the next morning. Being on your own for the first time and getting to do what you want was just such an amazing experience, and the closeness you felt at Creswell made you never feel alone.
- Getting involved in intramural sports is a must in college. I played intramural soccer and volleyball and loved every second. Our volleyball team consisted of just enough members to play, and we lost every single game because we had no idea how to play, yet it was incredibly fun. Our soccer team was actually quite good, despite me being terrible, and it was something to look forward to even when classes got difficult. Playing both indoor and outdoor soccer, depending on the season, was something my group of friends always looked forward to.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self and anyone else just starting college to take random classes if you can. I was so focused on staying in the STEM mode and mindset that I lost sight of what part of college is about, finding yourself. Some of the classes I most enjoyed had nothing at all to do with my major. My First-Year Odyssey Seminar about the freedom of speech challenged my preconceived notions on what speech even was. Sociology and anthropology changed the way I saw culture, society, and challenged me to look at systemic issues facing our country. Public Speaking put a mic in my hand and gave me a platform to say what I wanted for 10 minutes to my peers. I wish I had years of time to spend taking random classes, because as I look at the class registry, there are so many intriguing courses that have absolutely nothing to do with my major, but I am sure I would gain something from taking them.
What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
Humanitarianism. We are all on this planet together, no matter your culture, societal status, nation of birth or way of life. I believe we should have a common interest in trying to make the time we have on this planet enjoyable. I plan to aid in this by working to eradicate diseases and disorders affecting the world via participating in the creation of novel drugs/treatments. If I could be remembered for one thing, it would be to have benefited humanity by improving the overall quality of life via new medicines.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I aspire to work in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically drug development. I want to play a major role in designing drugs and compounds to address some of the biggest diseases/issues in the world, from cancers to viruses to mental health. Often, drug discovery is aimed at profit, and consequently, only high-earning countries’ issues are addressed. I hope to benefit the world from a humanitarian standpoint, addressing pressing issues no matter where they are without money being my motivator.
I #CommitTo: Innovation. Working to push scientific discovery to benefit humanity.