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Derek Duckett Named Scripps Florida 2016 Outstanding Mentor



Derek Duckett Named Scripps Florida 2016 Outstanding Mentor

By Madeline McCurry-Schmidt

Derek Duckett, associate professor on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and associate scientific director of TSRI’s Translational Research Institute, has been named the 2016 Outstanding Mentor by the Scripps Florida Society of Research Fellows (SF-SRF).

The award was announced October 21 at the campus’s Research Fest: Scientific Symposium & Vendor Show, following a SF-SRF mentor survey of graduate students and research associates.

“It’s an incredible honor to be named an outstanding mentor,” said Duckett. “It’s humbling.”

Duckett’s laboratory focuses on evaluating small molecules, called kinase inhibitors, for their potential to treat cancers and other diseases.

TSRI Research Associate Isabel Adrados Moran said Duckett creates a team environment by encouraging lab members to share their research with each other, telling jokes and understanding when a project is not running smoothly. She also appreciates Duckett’s emphasis on career development. “I would like to be a professor,” she said. “So the fact that he was okay with me getting teaching experience at Florida Atlantic University during work hours meant a lot for my future career.”

Duckett said his ultimate goal is to help trainees become successful, independent researchers—or find success in whatever path they choose to follow. “An important lesson that I learned from my own postdoc experience with Dr. Paul Modrich (Duke University), which I strive to convey to my trainees, is to believe in what you are doing and understand its importance,” said Duckett.

His mentees said they had learned a lot from Duckett’s mentorship style:

“Derek’s door is always open and he is very approachable,” said TSRI Research Assistant Wayne Grant. “He is great at encouraging me and others in the lab to do our best without any added pressure to get it right the first time.”

“Derek is probably the most positive person I know, and this, in science—where some weeks you can have a bad streak in which no experiment works—is great for us,” said Research Associate Victor Quereda.

“I look forward to being a leader like Derek one day!” added Adrados Moran.

The Scripps Florida Outstanding Mentor Award was established in 2012 to recognize principal investigators for accessibility, supportiveness, propensity for providing constructive criticism and concern for mentees’ future career. Previous SRF Outstanding Mentor Award winners include Courtney Miller, Joseph Kissil, Laura Niedernhofer and Christoph Rader.

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“It’s an incredible honor to be named an outstanding mentor—it’s humbling,” says Associate Professor Derek Duckett. (Photo by James McEntee)