Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Large Abroad | Former Seaforth resident shines at IBM

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Dr Gavin Jones

Outside of St Thomas' rural charms and history, there is not much to mention.

Until former Seaforth resident, Dr Gavin Jones, entered the spotlight.

Jones, born to a single mother from Llandewey, spent his early childhood uninterested in education and focused solely on enjoying himself.

Jones recalled his mother's anxiousness for him to strive for academic excellence, considering their financial situation.

"My mother was worried about the fact that I was not interested in learning anything and that I would grow up uneducated and lacking in opportunities," Jones told The Gleaner.

His disdain for literature eventually changed through his mother's constant pushing for him to read, transforming him into a scholar and an addict of novels.

Jones excelled academically during his time at Morant Bay High School, preferring maths and chemistry. After completing his O'Levels, he emigrated to attend Bard College in New York.

Jones' academic career changed once he was introduced to various research papers from a prominent professor from the University of California (UCLA) and decided to pursue a PhD in computational and physical chemistry.

"It seemed like a no-brainer. I would join UCLA once I got accepted into the chemistry PhD programme," he said.

Jones, after achieving his PhD, embarked on a postdoctoral research programme at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, he engaged in organometallic reactions, which are important for the creation of pharmaceutical drugs.

Jones, opting for a less academic path, applied for a vacancy at IBM.

There, he was brought on as a staff researcher and currently develops methods to reduce and possibly recycle polymers used to create water bottles.

Jones ascribes his success to his determination and not paying attention to the stereotype of his parish being full of "backward, country people".

"I have not let the fact that I am from St Thomas keep me from achieving as much as I could up to this point," he told The Gleaner.

Jones went on to say where an individual originates from is of no consequence because, as Jamaicans, "we're already stigmatised, and our success will come as a surprise for many".

Outside of his profession, Jones is a movie and sports fanatic, boasting of being a proud Manchester United fan.

He advises future scientists to persevere in their research and rely on others to encourage and help them along the way.

- Romaine Newell