Thomas Kelly High School
Jonathan Perez is a biology and chemistry instructor at Thomas Kelly College Prep on the southwest side of Chicago. He was born and raised in New York City and Jersey City, and credits his worldview to being raised amongst such fierce diversity. Within that diversity, however, he saw and experienced intense disparities and inequitable outcomes. Growing up, Jonathan always gravitated to science, and was set on pursuing a career in medicine to fight back against those injustices. The Great Recession put a halt to those plans, making Jonathan withdraw from his undergraduate studies at Rutgers University. That was when he started working with children in childcare programs at youth centers and various schools, and saw another way to serve his community. He eventually finished his undergraduate degree at Florida Gulf Coast University and his masters in Biological Sciences at Clemson University.
My mission as an educator is grounded in all those moments and more. I was thrilled to be a BEST fellow in Dr. Shin’s lab this summer. His team is dedicated to exploring how cells build and remodel their environments in physiology and disease, and how to leverage those insights to treat tissue injury, degeneration, and fibrosis with precision. In particular, I worked on creating alginate hydrogels as a vehicle for delivering these targeted therapies.