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Jonathan Gaige ‘18
BS Human Evolutionary Biology
Cum Laude


Before he transferred to the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, Jonathan Gaige had been studying physical science at Borough of Manhattan Community College. One day, while working in a lab, his manager started talking about study abroad programs. His interest piqued, Jon went online and searched “study abroad programs human evolution.” The first result was Stony Brook’s Turkana Basin Institute (TBI). He recognized Stony Brook, as his best friend and former roommate had just transferred there, and took it as a sign that he was meant to follow this path. He decided to attend Stony Brook, seeing as it has such a good Human Evolutionary Biology program. He had originally wanted to study genetics and human brain evolution, and this program would allow him to do that.

Jon currently works in two different labs, and received an Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA) grant for research this summer. He has also presented research at the American Society of Cell Biology, and co-authored multiple publications on his work. He will be graduating Cum Laude and will receive his BS in only three years!

Jon highly enjoys traveling and has been to many places including TBI in Kenya as well as Australia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. He also hitchhiked across the United States! Jon loves cooking, working on his motorcycle, and painting portraits of people.

With plans to get his PhD after graduation, Jon hopes to attend the University of Adelaide to study ancient DNA and microbiome evolution. Given his love for traveling, he is excited at the prospect of studying in Australia.

Jon Gaige URECAAs he plans to do work pertaining to human evolution genetics and hominin genetics, Jon would like to study population genetics and conservation for the Environmental Protection Agency, or go into the health industry. “Depending on what PhD program I get into, I’m hoping to be somewhere in the population or functional genetics realm, in which I could work in a lot of different scenarios,” he said.

Jon’s favorite aspect of the college experience is studying abroad. He particularly liked studying at TBI because it was so much more than immersion in a different cultural experience. “The Turkana Basin Institute, being a field school, is such a drastically different type of college experience, but also an educational experience in general because it’s so hands-on and location-specific,” he said. “What appealed to me was the ability to study in the field and in that particular location, which is so important to human origins.” 

His advice to inco J Gaigeming students? Jon suggests that those who are interested in the sciences should find a job in a lab, because it is important to develop connections with your professors early on. “I think that creating any kind of personal relationship with professors will teach you a lot of things about the world, and about the very adult life that you are entering when you graduate from college,” he said. “It’ll teach you professional skills, interpersonal, and methodological skills. These will hopefully be connections that you will keep for the rest of your life.”


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