Ben Desper (BS ‘09) is a fan of flexibility and sharks, two things he became well acquainted with as a result of his University of Georgia experience.
Desper knew that the rigor of the academics UGA provided coupled with the entertainment in the city of Athens was the ideal combination for him.
Additionally, majoring in biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences had him attending classes with a group of people from all over the world. He believes that the education he received, enhanced by those multicultural classroom experiences, prepared him for a 2012 internship in South Africa. While there, he studied, extracted DNA, and sometimes even swam with Great White Sharks.
“It was like shark week every day,” said Desper. “Living on another continent for that internship, in many ways, prepared me for working with people from other countries in my current role. Additionally, working with sharks taught me how to resist complacency, problem-solve, and handle stress.”
Although Desper focused on environmental pollutants and genetics while in school, his flexibility ultimately led him to Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Athens, a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. Desper is a Senior Quality Assurance Specialist at Janssen and is currently on a developmental rotation that has him working closely with other small molecule cluster sites in Ireland, Belgium and Switzerland.
He enjoys working at Janssen because the company makes such a large impact on people’s lives by manufacturing life-saving drugs. He also appreciates the cutting-edge technology that is part of his everyday work.
His favorite memories at UGA come from gameday Saturdays, walking through North Campus and smelling the food cooking at the various tailgates. He laughingly admits to also occasionally missing late-night study sessions with friends.
Desper’s advice to UGA students centers around the flexibility he has come to prize in his own life: “Treat every experience like a classroom and always absorb everything you can because you never know where you will end up.”
Today, Desper keeps saltwater fish tanks in his home, he travels all over the world to scuba dive with and photograph sharks, and he works at a world-class pharmaceutical company: an example of what can happen when you stay flexible.