Detention to doctorate: Student pursues Ph.D. at Yale

By Lauren Lavelle

Jonathan Tyson, a senior biochemistry major, was recently accepted into Yale’s prestigious Ph.D. program.

“A Ph.D. is undoubtedly the only career path for me,” said Tyson. “I’m all about problem-solving and, in one way or another, I’ve incorporated it into every aspect of my life. I can spend hours just brainstorming about more interesting, efficient and unique ways to solve problems without realizing how much time had passed.”

Tyson, a very involved student respected by both faculty and peers, started out with the common issues every young scholar deals with.

“I wasn’t always as ‘well-behaved’ as I am now, and as such I spent a little time in school detentions and things of that sort,” said Tyson.

Eventually, though, Tyson used this “free” time to his advantage and discovered one of his true passions.

“I’d always pass this time by developing efficient methods to solve complex mathematical problems mentally,” said Tyson. “Eventually, tutoring would become my passion. I realized that I enjoyed helping others work through their problems equally as much as I enjoyed solving my own. The opportunity to answer questions that, even with the wealth of knowledge currently available in the world, no one has been able to address is a challenge the problem-solver in me just can’t turn down. I live to ask and answer questions.”

Tyson’s knack for problem-solving and his desire to help others led him to believe teaching was the best path to take. Yet, a bigger, more complicated field occupied his mind.

“As I continued to read and learn, I discovered that there were even greater problems out there, such as incurable disease and scientific phenomena, which to this day no one can explain,” said Tyson. “Of course, like everyone else in my field, I want my work to somehow make a difference in the world. Being a Ph.D. scientist allows me to do that every day for the rest of my life. I know that if I pursue this path, I’ll never ‘work’ a day in my life.”

After obtaining his terminal degree, Tyson hopes to become a professor at a research-one level institution and looks forward to training future generations of chemists.

Along with this, Tyson wants to enlighten the public on the joys of science, an aspect of the world he feels should be appreciated rather than feared.

“I hope to somehow aid in spreading science by working together with other scientists to find new and interesting ways to explain our work to the public,” said Tyson. “It’d be great to somehow increase the excitement for science and academics in general among young people. Fewer questions about ‘what Kim Kardashian is doing’ and more about how molecular interactions within biochemical systems could facilitate the curing of disease would be great.”

Tyson credits the majority of his success at Rider to the professors who guided him through his tough academic courses, specifically Dr. Danielle Jacobs, an associate chemistry professor.

“My pattern of close relationship with professors was solidified my sophomore year when I met Dr. Jacobs while taking organic chemistry,” said Tyson. “I owe my desire to study organic chemistry to her. She offered me a position in her lab and quickly got me working firsthand with real science.”

When asked if he had any advice for students with a similar career path in mind, Tyson delivered an encouraging message.

“Take your education into your own hands,” said Tyson. “Rider has wonderful professors, but at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your own academic development. Every single class that I took here at Rider, core courses included, I can say I gained something from. I want to be the one to make a difference. Only dedication can get you that, not grades.”

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