Donny, or D.J. (short for Donny Jr.) Pearson was born in Minneapolis and attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School. He attributes his love of science to his wonderful teachers and his opportunity to visit Costa Rica three times in high school for research through the program Seeds of Change. While at Clark University, he majored in both physics and chemistry and graduated cum laude with high honors in physics. With the inspiration of his teachers and professors, he then went on to pursue a PhD in atomic, molecular, and optical physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, as part of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI). However, he left with a Masters of Science when his lab moved to the University of Illinois, where he is currently continuing his doctorate studying quantum optics with the newly founded Institute for Quantum Information Science and technology (IQUIST). When not in the lab, he can be found playing soccer, watching the Premier League, drawing/painting, or enjoying anything "Star Wars" and "Jurassic Park" related.