October 11, 2021

James Patrone, PhD'10, shares his experience and advice as a tenure-track professor of chemistry at Rollins College. 

U-M Pharmacy: What was your most memorable learning experience or impactful faculty mentor?

Dr. Patrone: I had many memorable experiences and impactful faculty members at U-M. If I had to pick one, I would choose Garry Dotson, the person most responsible for my development as a person and scientist. Garry taught me many lessons in science, life, and fatherhood throughout my five years under his stewardship. He had a great way of listening and imparting wisdom while putting a smile on your face. A quote from him that I use frequently with my students is when I asked him what is was like coming back from Dupont and watching students like me doing science. He replied, "It's like watching my girls learn to eat solid food. You are messy, you choke a lot, but eventually you get it done."

U-M Pharmacy: What was your favorite extracurricular activity?

Dr. PatroneMy favorite extracurricular activity was life in Ann Arbor on the weekends with my friends. I loved a crisp Saturday morning and taking the hours long odyssey through the golf course playing cornhole, meeting people, and eating great food on the way to the Big House to cheer on the maize and blue. After the game, times spent in the corner booth at the brown jug or loud conversations at a table at Dominic's later that night always made for a good time.

U-M Pharmacy: How did your fellow alumni or professional network impact your career?

Dr. Patrone: I have had the fortune of running into Michigan alums at every stop since I left Ann Arbor and the ability to use my ties to the Medicinal Chemistry program to help my current students. I work with a fellow wolverine from PIBS, who is a biology professor, so that connection was instant when we met at Rollins. The most impactful way I utilize my professional network is through sending a few of my current students to the Med Chem program. I have been lucky enough to have two students work in the Interdisciplinary REU program with one student joining the PIBS program and the other student joining the Med Chem program at UM. It is hard to describe how surreal and fulfilling sending my students back home and setting them on this path has been me.

U-M Pharmacy: Tell us about your current position.

Dr. PatroneI am currently a tenure-track professor of chemistry at Rollins College, a small liberal arts college in Winter Park, Florida. I teach classes in organic, medicinal, and biochemistry during the school year. I also maintain a small research lab that conducts research in organic and biochemistry.

U-M Pharmacy: How did you discover this career path?

Dr. PatroneI have always enjoyed teaching and doing science and I was looking for a career that allowed me to do both. Throughout my journey I was also mindful of juggling work with my wife's (U-M alumna) career, and what was eventually going to be our family. I did some research on the internet and asked some of my friends and colleagues that went to liberal arts colleges about their experiences. From everything I read and heard, I felt it was a good fit. So far being a chemistry professor at a small liberal arts college has given me that balance.

U-M Pharmacy: What advice do you have for students interested in this career path?

Dr. PatroneMy best advice is to watch, listen, and learn. I am constantly utilizing lessons I learned from hanging out with my professors, other grad students, and post-docs to solve problems I never thought I would have to solve. Many of my go-to solutions are from lessons I learned from just hanging out, listening, and learning in the moment.