Benjamin Clayton

Joined: Jun 02, 2021 Last Active: Oct 14, 2021 iNaturalist

I was born in Puerto Rico, but raised in Tennessee. My father was a physician, and I first thought I would become a physician also, but later learned that I loved to invent useful products that could benefit society. As a student in organic chemistry lab, I synthesized the precursor for TNT, which showed me the power of invention and how knowledge could create such power in the form of molecules. And so my passion grew for this topic. At that time, I was influenced by Paracelsus, who described how all physicians should become chemists and search for cures within nature. With this inspiration, I eventually pursued a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Memphis in order to discover new medicines.

My doctoral research was in the structural characterization of the 2nd extracellular loop (ECL2) of the lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 (LPA1). Structural characterization of this receptor using NMR spectroscopy was required for discovery of novel chemotherapies.

I have many years of teaching experience as a college professor and have remained active in research. I served as Associate Professor of Chemistry, Chemical Hygiene Safety Officer, and Division Chair. With my translational science philosophy, I enjoy taking research beyond the lab bench as a rapid commercialization process. In other words, I love to develop practical chemical inventions with direct applications in the business world.

During my personal research studies, I read that 90-95% of cancer diagnoses resulted from factors that were largely avoidable through changes in lifestyle. In seeking to address this societal issue, I decided to obtain a Pharm.D. at the Appalachian College of Pharmacy. I graduated in 2021 with distinction as a member of the Rho Chi Pharmacy Honor Society. Indeed, the field of pharmacy is the best blend of both chemistry and medicine.

As my background in medicinal chemistry suggests, I love learning about plants and their medicinal applications. Despite an interest in business, I am an advocate of wildlife conservation. Biological diversity is tantamount to chemodiversity in terms of the incredible diversity of secondary metabolites, most of which are still yet undiscovered and could provide cures for human diseases. Though I am astounded by this complex array of chemical structures and their potential application as medicines, nature sings an aria of unparalleled beauty as a vindication against its own destruction. This beauty is reason enough for the preservation of nature.

I have been an amateur naturalist since childhood. I can remember such enjoyable camping and hiking trips with my father, who also inspired my love for nature. In addition, I studied vertebrate biology under Dr. Fred J. Alsop at East Tennessee State University, who gave me more of a passion for birding specifically. Since then, I have been an avid bird watcher for over twenty years, though I am just beginning to track my progress with technology. This training in the biological sciences at ETSU has continued to stay close to my heart and fueled my desire for wildlife conservation.

View All