Murchtricia Jones: Faith, Fashion and My Journey into STEM


What are some of the earliest memories you have about being drawn to or having an aptitude for STEM? 

My aptitude for science came much later in life than most think. I was always a “good” student, but my love for science began during my undergraduate career. I left high school with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. However, once I entered undergrad at the University of the Virgin Islands, I fell in love with math and switched my major to Mathematics.

Can you share a little about your faith journey and Christian testimony?

Sure! As a young child, my mom had us attend church. However, as we got older, that weaned off quite a bit. In undergrad I had many opportunities to attend church and join Christian organizations on campus, but I refused. I truly avoided the Lord. Upon entering graduate school I connected with another student from the Virgin Islands, and she invited me to her church, where I had a divine encounter with the Lord that changed my life.


I honestly can say that I have never had a personal conflict between science and faith. I have always believed that science was an explanation of the immense creativity of our Lord.

Murchtricia Jones

As a scientist, person of faith and new professor, how does your faith inform your science, and vice versa? Did you ever experience conflict?

I honestly can say that I have never had a personal conflict between science and faith. I have always believed that science was an explanation of the immense creativity of our Lord. The conflict more so came from working in a secular environment and being honest and open about my faith. This is a struggle that many of us at the interface of science and faith face.

It is my firm belief that being a Christian makes me a better professor. At Carolina University, I am in an environment that allows me to pray with students and encourage them to incorporate the Lord into their studies. I am able to speak both academically and theologically into their lives.

Can you tell us a little bit about your thesis project for your Ph.D. and the current work you hope to launch in your own research lab at Carolina University?

My work at the University of Michigan was focused on the incorporation of Machine Learning for drug development. More specifically, I created a software called ML-MATCH that predicts chemical attributes of small molecules in an effort to more efficiently and accurately optimize their preparation for computational based assays. This work will hopefully help streamline drug discovery and development.

Carolina University is largely a teaching institution, but I hope to launch a research lab. As I buildup the computational capabilities of my lab, my work will focus primarily on cheminformatics research, a quantitative approach to address chemistry related questions.


My experiences (in the pageant world) catapulted me into the woman I am today. I can take loss, receive criticism and get back up with ease due to these experiences. I can present my scientific research in a room of hundreds with charisma and passion. I am so grateful to God for my varied life experiences.

Murchtricia Jones

While you were a graduate student at the University of Michigan you worked tirelessly to increase diversity in STEM education. For this work, you were awarded the Scholar Activist Award and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scientist Spotlight. Can you share some of the work you did in this area, and how you hope to continue this work now as a college professor? 

While completing my Ph.D. I invested time into serving my surrounding community. One of the major projects I did was the creation of InnoWorks at the University of Michigan. InnoWorks is a student-led organization that serves middle school students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds by providing one-on-one scientific mentorship and a week-long summer camp which gave each student the opportunity to explore academia and complete hands-on projects. During my time as Executive Director, we raised over $40,000 and assisted more than 80 students.

I plan to implement two student-led organizations at Carolina University. The first is an organization very similar to InnoWorks. In Winston-Salem, NC, many families are low-income, and students do not have access to scientific research experience. It is my hope that this organization will become a staple in the community and that we will be able to expose many students to STEM research.

The second organization is “CU Women in STEM”. This organization would act as a support group for female STEM majors. Female student retention of STEM majors is a problem across the board. It is my hope that this organization will help us to retain these students and give them an environment conducive to success in the sciences.

You recently visited and spoke at your alma mater the University of the Virgin Islands. What was it like to be back?  What did you talk about and share with the students?

Going back to the University of the Virgin Islands was a wonderful experience for me. I was able to reconnect with my professors and had the opportunity to thank them for their role in my success. I spoke to students about my journey from the Virgin Islands to becoming a professor, as well as my current research. I met one-on-one with students and provided guidance in applying to and selecting graduate programs.

During my visit I was asked by a student, “How did someone from here do that?” I answered: “My familial support, amazing mentors, and I grabbed every opportunity that came my way.”

Dr. Murchtricia Jones giving a talk as a Keynote Speaker of the 2015 Academic Awards Ceremony at the University of the Virgin Islands

Photo credit: Dale Morton

Outside of teaching or research, you are an avid fashionista. Your most recent foray has been into thrifting, sharing with others how you transform inexpensive items into stylish and chic looks and promoting body positive and inclusivity. Your interest in fashion started a while back, as during college you were crowned Miss University of the Virgin Islands. Where did your love of fashion come from?  Any overlap between faith, fashion and science?

My love for fashion came from my big brother, Jamal Drummond. He is a fashion designer and pageant coach! I grew up in the pageant world and fashion industry. I always say you can control two things in this world. First, the way you respond to difficult situations, and second, your clothing choices. Everything else is up to the Lord and your faith in Him!

Whenever I speak about my science, I give my background in all areas, including pageantry. I always speak about how being a pageant Queen has made me a better scientist and person. My experiences on the stage catapulted me into the woman I am today. I can take loss, receive criticism and get back up with ease due to these experiences. I can present my scientific research in a room of hundreds with charisma and passion. I am so grateful to God for my varied life experiences.



About the Authors

  • Murchtricia Jones

    Murchtricia Jones

    Dr. Murchtricia Jones is currently an Assistant Professor at Carolina University in Winston-Salmen, NC. She is a native of the United States Virgin Islands where she received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2015. She then went on to complete a Masters of Science in Bioinformatics from the University of Michigan in 2017 and Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from the University of Michigan in 2021. She has had research experience at both Rutgers University and the San Diego Supercomputer Center developing and utilizing computational chemistry methodologies. Her dissertation work focused on utilizing machine learning for the generation of an atom parameterization software for small organic molecules. Dr. Jones is enthusiastic about education and teaching the next generation of scientists. Much of her career has been dedicated to increasing diversity in STEM education and working with students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. For her work, she was awarded both the Scholar Activist Award and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scientist Spotlight in 2019 from the University of Michigan. She has also been awarded the Promise in Computational Chemistry award from the American Chemical Society.  When not programming or working with students, Dr. Jones spends time with her family and volunteering at church.
  • Ciara Reyes-Ton

    Ciara Reyes-Ton

    Ciara Reyes-Ton is a biologist, science writer and editor who is passionate about science communication, teaching and outreach to diverse audiences, whether that be to the general public, religious communities or the students she has taught. She has a Ph.D. in Cell & Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Biology from Valparaiso University. She has served as Managing Editor for the American Scientific Affiliation’s God & Nature Magazine, and previously taught Biology at Belmont University, Lipscomb University and Nashville State Community College. She is currently the Digital Content Editor for BioLogos. She is deeply committed to further science and faith dialogue and share the harmony she’s found with others. Outside of teaching and writing, she enjoys singing and coffee.
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