Combining Careers in Engineering
Biological Engineer Blends Chemistry, Machines and Life Sciences
Published in Creating Tomorrow – Oct. 15, 2016 – Nephi Jones has spent the last decade developing a more efficient bioreactor for the life sciences industry. The big stainless steel vessels dot the laboratory space where he works at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Logan. The machines generate the basic ingredients for therapeutic drugs that combat eye disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer and are constantly evolving to produce better results.
Nephi Jones (BS&MS '04, Biological Engineering) is the R&D Manager for Advanced
Technology at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
“They’re what keeps me up at night,” said Jones with a laugh. “And they’re what gets me out of bed each day to come to work.”
Jones is a Cache Valley native who always liked solving problems and building tools to make the job easier. Today, he’s the research and development manager for advanced technology at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Logan.
“I always thought I wanted to be an engineer,” he said. “I liked biochemistry and life sciences, but I also liked building things and working on machines. I figured a degree in biological engineering would let me combine all those areas into one. Biological engineering just seemed like the right fit for me.”
Jones earned a concurrent BS-MS degree in biological engineering and, as part of his graduate studies, worked on cutting-edge research developing hairy root plant cultures in a bioreactor.
Since graduating in 2004, Jones has stayed connected with the Biological Engineering Department and now serves on its industrial advisory board. He also acts as an industry liaison for the BE program and has facilitated generous funding through Thermo Fisher for various student design projects. Jones says he looks back at his USU experience grateful to the professors who mentored him.
“It was the people who drew me into the department,” he said. “The professors had a strong interest in student success. They did everything they could to make sure we had a good learning environment and mentors to help us. For me, Professor Tim Taylor was pivotal in my academic career, and even now we still keep in touch and have a good professional relationship.”
Jones says he contributes his time and talents to his alma mater because he wants to pay back a favor.
“There are a lot of people who went before me who blazed the trail,” he said. And I realize that there are others who are coming up behind me and trying to learn and make good in the world. I just want to repay the favor that was done for me.”