Murchtricia Jones

PhD Candidate, Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics

Hometown: St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands


 

Tell us about yourself!

“As a first-generation college student and a child of a hardworking single parent, I never thought that obtaining a PhD would be accessible to me. Coming from the Virgin Islands, there were no science camps or computing experiences. There were not many outlets available to place us “ahead of the game”. However, throughout my academic journey, I was fortunate enough to meet amazing people who were willing to give their time and effort to assist underrepresented students in the sciences. This experience has inspired me to pay it forward and extend my efforts to doing the same for other students.”

Three words would you choose to describe yourself.

“Tenacious, Giving, Friendly”

What do you like to do when you have free time?

“During my free time, I like to spend time with friends and church family as they are a major cornerstone of my success as a graduate student.”

Are you a dog or cat person?

“Dogs! Definitely! I love their kind and protective nature.”

Briefly describe your research

“I am working on developing a software that will allow for the “learning” of different force fields and the prediction of atomic parameters. When running molecular dynamics simulations, specifically, free energy of binding calculations necessary for drug discovery studies, parameters such as atom type, partial charges and torsion angles are of special importance.”

 

How do you promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of Michigan?

“The DEI initiative has been near and dear to my heart for a very long time. I am currently the Executive Director for the student organization InnoWorks at Michigan.”

 

What is InnoWorks? How can one get involved?

InnoWorks, a student-led organization at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. InnoWorks is the flagship program of United InnoWorks Academy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization founded in 2003. InnoWorks encourages students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to enter the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine (STEM) by running a free week-long summer science camp, planned and run entirely by undergraduate and graduate University of Michigan student volunteers.
We can be found on Maize Pages or contacted at innoworks-UIA-requests@umich.edu.

 

What is your favorite thing about your current program?

“The Bioinformatics has a Thursday afternoon seminar called BISTRO. It is an opportunity for students to present their research to other students, so we are able to receive feedback.”

Tell us about a challenge you ran into in your educational training & how you overcame it.

“I believe that the challenges that I have faced have been less academic and more emotional. Things like imposter syndrome and comparing myself to others, ran rampant in my mind when I started grad school. However, through therapy, YES therapy, and self-reflection, I found that everyone’s journey is different. As a result, I realized it is up to me to determine how this journey will proceed.”

 

How did other people help you get to where you are today?

“My mom raised me to be strong. The strength she instilled in me is why I am at Michigan. This journey has been a rollercoaster, but with the foundation that was laid, as a young girl, I was able to achieve the many goals that I have sought. However, my journey is not complete, there is still a long way to go!”

 

Do you have a secret for time-management and being productive?

“I create a weekly and daily to do list using my Outlook calendar. It contains all the details of what I need to accomplish, deadlines, and how to go about taking care of the tasks. I also immediately take care of small tasks as soon as it is tasked to me. I like to get the small stuff out of the way first.” 

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring scientist or first year student in your program?

“Identify a mentor who is NOT your PI and does not have much to do with your research. Find someone that you can talk to. Someone who has been where you currently are and who can give good advice when needed. Someone you can be open with. Other than your research, find something that you love, whether it is a hobby or outreach. Identify that one healthy activity that you can turn to when the going gets tough. This activity will be more therapeutic than you think.”

Can students contact you directly?

Yes! About basically anything. I’m a pretty open book.

Connect with Murchtricia on LinkedIn

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Spotlights are created with the help of Nnamdi Edokobi, third-year PhD candidate, Pharmacology Department.