Pheatured Scientist | 011


Phuture Dr. Ron Benning

Meet this week's featured scientist working on radioactive amino acids for 3D clinical imaging technologies. 

I am most humbled by how my opportunities have taken shape in new areas of scientific exploration and inspiring new generations of youth. I am proud to be a representative of the underrepresented body of urban-city youths, serving as a striving model of success.
— Ron Benning

Originally from Trenton, New jersey, Ron Benning was first introduced to scientific research through ACS Project SEED; a program sponsored by the American Chemical Society that allows economically disadvantaged high school students to engage in collegiate-level research under supervision of mentor.  Ron was mentored by professor John Eugene Sheats at Rider University. Ron assisted with the synthesis of aryldiazonium salts, and investigated the effects of solvolysis on the kinetic isotope effect. After receiving his high school diploma, he went onward as a declared chemistry major at Rider to continue research and serve a new role as a student mentor for Project SEED.

As an undergraduate, Ron engaged in research including the synthesis of natural product R-(+)-pulegone, investigation into conjugate addition to 2-vinylpyridines, and the synthesis of triarylmethane photosensitizers in polyurethanes for stereotactic dosimetry. This exposure propelled his interest into pursuing a career in natural science, leading to being the first family member to receive a college degree and pursue a PhD in the natural science field.

Ron is now entering his third year of graduate school at Vanderbilt University.  Ron’s current research Interests include synthetic organic chemistry, material science, and spectroscopy. For the past two years, Ron has worked on radiochemistry in the Manning research group. By July 2018, he will have earned his master’s degree where his thesis focuses on synthesizing natural positron emission markers for 3D imaging by incorporating a radioactive isotope of carbon into amino acids.

Ron will be joining the Johnston research group to continue his endeavors in earning his PhD. His future career goal is to become a research professor at a moderately small university or college. When Ron is not optimizing the conditions of his experiment you will find him rafting, working out, chilling by a bonfire, or playing guitar.