Ron Robert Ramsubhag
Associate Scientist at Nektar Therapeutics
BS Chemistry/Molecular and Cell Biology 2009
Peczuh Group and Bailey Group
As a first generation minority undergraduate, the chemistry department was my escape to helping me discover what I wanted to do with my life.
Additional degrees & licenses received
Ph.D., Chemistry, 2017, Florida State University
What is your current (or most recent) job, what does a typical day look like, and how did UConn prepare you for this role?
I’m currently working at Nektar Therapeutics as an organic chemist. Our company focuses on combating autoimmune diseases such as a variety of cancers. My day entails reading literature, designing new types of chemical reactions to synthesize potential cancer drug candidates, and participating in productive meetings to help shape our current research. All of the things I listed would not be possible if not for my education at UConn. My undergraduate and Master’s research under the guidance of Dr. Peczuh, Dr. Bailey, and Dr. Bobbitt, gave me the necessary tools and skills needed to tackle problems that are faced in the scientific community.
Tell us about your experience as a Chemistry student at UConn.
I am forever grateful for my experience as a chemistry student at the University of Connecticut. As a first generation minority undergraduate, the chemistry department was my escape to helping me discover what I wanted to do with my life. I learned to carry out research in carbohydrate chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Peczuh. I participated in the UConn Chemistry Club where I later became the club’s president, leading us to be recognized by the American Chemical Society. I discovered my passion for teaching chemistry undergraduate classes and being a mentor for the students in the LSAMP program. Working in the chemistry outreach program, I learned how to give back to my community using science. I’ve had a lot of wonderful days that stand out for me, but I will never forget the first one that set the path I am on now. I was in attending an organic chemistry lecture by Dr. Smith who was discussing chiarlity and how that can play a role in finding cures to diseases such HIV or cancer. I realized from that day forward I wanted to be an organic chemist.
Can you tell us about your experience post-graduation?
After my time at UConn, I went on to receive my Ph.D. in chemistry at Florida State University. There I became the chemistry outreach coordinator, published in scientific journals, and received teaching awards. I took one year off during my Ph.D. to work at GlaxoSmithKline, where I built on my medicinal chemistry experience designing drugs for heart failure. After My Ph.D. experience, I went to Harvard University where I was the preceptor for the undergraduate organic chemistry classes. I also had the privilege to do chemical biology research with Dr. Woo. Now, I am at Nektar focusing on new drug designs that can help fight cancer.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to current students?
The advice I would like to share with current and future students in chemistry is, just be yourselves. Get lost in the chemistry department. I did and it has helped accomplish many things in my life. Talk with your professors, seek out chemistry outreach opportunities, and participate in the chemistry club to build your network. I cannot stress this enough, seek help from your professors, teaching assistants, and the chemistry staff if you feel that you are being overwhelmed.
Were there any faculty who particularly influenced your experience at UConn?
There were four chemistry professors who had a huge impact in my life.
First – Dr. Michael Smith. His lectures in organic chemistry made me want to become an organic chemist.
Second – Dr. William Bailey. I started my undergraduate research in his lab where I learned that I enjoy doing research.
The next two had the biggest impact.
Third – Dr. Mark Peczuh. I started as a summer intern in Dr. Peczuh’s lab which later led to me joining his lab in the fall. I learned from him that I cannot just be good at chemistry but that all subjects are important. I took that heart which led me to obtain my B.S. in Chemistry, B.S. in Molecular and Cell biology, and Master’s in Chemistry under his guidance. I wanted to be the person who can make molecules and test its biological properties. It was Dr. Peczuh who showed me that it is cool to be curious.
Fourth – Dr. James Bobbitt. If it wasn’t for Dr. Bobbitt, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He was the first person in the scientific community to believe in me and pushed me in the right direction. He taught me how to run my first reaction in the lab, encouraged me to teach chemistry, be a mentor to the future generations, and that I can still have my faith while I dig deeper in understanding the mysteries of chemistry. Because of his influence on me, I strive every day to use what I learned to make an impact in our society for the better.