A pharmacy student from Suwanee, Ransom Jones always knew that he wanted to work in medicine and become a medical inventor. His brother was born with severe cerebral palsy, which contributed to Jones’ commitment to eradicating disease and improving the general quality of life through new drugs.
Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
Study objective: BS / MS Pharmacy
Expected Graduation: Spring 2022 or spring 2023
Other degrees: Biology minor
The special thing about you:
My brother was born with severe cerebral palsy. For this reason, from a young age I wanted to be a âmedical inventorâ, as I called it, and contribute to the further development of modern medicine. I am so grateful that I was able to find a degree and a way to study this lifelong dream at the University of Georgia.
I am currently working as a research fellow in the laboratory of the College of Pharmacy Drug Discovery led by David Chu and Uma Singh. In my laboratory we perform novel carbocyclic nucleotide analogue syntheses for antiviral and cancer-fighting purposes. This summer and autumn I received the CURO assistantship, which, in addition to the financial support in spring, offers me a platform to present my work and results.
I have gained so much experience and confidence in my ability to work as a scientist. The multi-step synthesis is a complex process. Through my experience, I have performed tough multi-stage reactions, used complex analysis techniques and tools, learned how to interpret and report data, among other things. My learning goes beyond the laboratory. I was introduced to academic articles and databases where I could read drug discovery advances, medical breakthroughs, and other scientific achievements. Through the lab, I started writing my own review paper focusing on advances in drug discovery.
How did you come to the UGA?
The campus tour I did in high school made me fall in love with school. North Campus was absolutely great and a walk through the Tate and Miller Learning Center showed me all the different types of people attending the UGA. I always wanted to go to a big school and UGA felt huge. I also loved downtown Athens both day and night. The small shops, local restaurants and night life make it a great university town.
How did you decide on your course of study?
I originally studied biochemistry to study medicine. From a young age I knew I wanted to work in medicine, and studying medicine seemed like the logical answer. However, in my first year I took Organic Chemistry 1 and I really enjoyed it and understood it better than normal chemistry. I chose pharmaceutical science, as I call it “applied” organic chemistry. Medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, drug development, all of these courses work with organic compounds and use them for the benefit of the body. In addition, pharmaceutical science teaches all aspects of the industry and expands my professional opportunities.
What is your favorite course that you have taken?
My first year Odyssey class was about freedom of expression and what that means. When I got into this I wasn’t sure what to expect or what it was even about and it turned out to be a very responsive class that was difficult to answer questions about whether certain speeches are and should be “free”. The class was led by Charles Davis, Dean of Grady College of Journalism. His lectures and practical examples changed my view of what language was, what impact it had on society, and how we should regulate it. I wasn’t looking forward to taking a random course that had nothing to do with my major in my freshman year, but I’m so grateful for it.
What surprised you about UGA or contradicted your expectations?
It really surprised me that, despite my studies at a huge university, most of my professors can be reached by e-mail and, if necessary, during office hours. Additionally, when you reach out to them, many of them build personal connections with you and they often really care that you understand the material. When I got to UGA I assumed that I would be just a face in the crowd since it is such a big school, but even in my big freshman lectures, I knew my professors and many of them knew me with name. Also, when I got into my majors, I felt that the professors wanted us to understand and enjoy the class. They taught it not just so that we could pass the exam, but in the hope that we would enjoy the subject.
What are your UGA highlights?
- In my sophomore year at UGA, I got a job at Starland Pizza in downtown Athens. As fun as it sounds, this basic service job has been one of the best times of my life. I got involved in downtown life, made friends with my coworkers, and cheered the Dawgs on at every football game while serving pizza to fans. As part of not just the school community, but also the UGA fan community and the local Athens community, my view of Athens has really changed. There’s something special about working with people who don’t go to UGA, aren’t college students, or maybe graduated 10 years ago with a shared love for the Bulldawgs. You also connect with those who are having the same ridiculous and strange experiences that you have as a server.
- Living on the Creswell campus for the freshman year was an amazing college experience. I always left my door open to meet people passing by and greet my neighbors. My friends and I huddled in the tiny rooms at night and played FIFA for hours, met new people, and stayed up until the morning, even if we had class at 8 a.m. the next morning. Being alone for the first time and being able to do what you want was an amazing experience, and the closeness you felt at Creswell never let you feel alone.
- Participation in intramural sports is a must in college. I played soccer and volleyball and loved every second. Our volleyball team had just enough members to play and we lost every single game because we had no idea how to play, but it was a lot of fun. Our soccer team was actually pretty good, even though I was terrible, and it was something to look forward to even if the class was 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 your younger you?
I would tell my younger me and anyone else just starting college to take random classes if you can. I was so focused on staying in STEM mode and mindset that I lost sight of what college is about, finding yourself. Some of the courses I enjoyed the most had nothing to do with my major. My first year Odyssey seminar on freedom of expression challenged my preconceived notions about what language is. Sociology and anthropology changed my view of culture and society and challenged me to look at systemic problems our country is facing. Public Speaking put a microphone in my hand and gave me a platform to tell my colleagues what I wanted for 10 minutes. I wish I had years to take random courses because when I look at the class directory there are so many fascinating courses that have absolutely nothing to do with my major, but I’m sure I will gain something from them would.
What is your passion and how do you work for it?
Humanity. We are all together on this planet, regardless of your culture, your social status, your native country or your way of life. I believe we should have a common interest in making the time we have on this planet enjoyable. I plan to help with this by working to eradicate diseases and disorders that affect the world by participating in the development of novel drugs / treatments. If I could be remembered, it would be to have benefited humanity by improving the general quality of life through new drugs.
What are your plans after graduation?
I aspire to work in the pharmaceutical industry, especially drug development. I want to play an important role in drug and compound development to address some of the biggest diseases / problems in the world, from cancer to viruses to mental health. Often times, drug discovery is geared towards profit and, as a result, only the problems of high-income countries are addressed. I hope to benefit the world from a humanitarian standpoint by addressing urgent issues no matter where they are without money being my motivator.
I obligate myself: Innovation. We work to advance scientific discoveries for the benefit of mankind.