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Darren Griffith named SSPC Mentor of the Year
June 14, 2024

Congratulations to Dr Darren Griffith, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, RCSI, the recipient of the 2023 SSPC award for Mentor of the Year. Darren’s research interests are broadly in the areas of medicinal inorganic chemistry.

Over the past year, Darren has played an important role in the progression of a number of his group member’s careers through providing consistent advice and support. For example, over the last year, 2 early career researchers/postdoctoral fellows within the group have secured academic positions (Daniel Rodrigues – RCSI, Stephen Barrett – Maynooth University) while a third has secured part-time lecturing experience at TU Dublin (Joshua McLean) whilst continuing his research within the group. Moreover, more recently Darren has played an integral role in his student (Paul O’Dowd) securing a Research Assistant Position following completion of his PhD. In all cases, Darren’s support and commitment to ensuring the successful career progression of researchers within his group has played a primary role in making these transitions possible.

Darren’s ability to train and guide students within the group is exceptional with an important emphasis on developing a positive culture and work environment in the lab through team work and the continued professional development of students. This is achieved through a regular presence within the lab as well as weekly meetings with each member of the group. Moreover, Darren consistently goes above and beyond to make time during the week to discuss problems inthelab,troubleshootexperimentsandofferguidanceonthemanagementofprojects.

Under Darren’s guidance, students within the group have developed a diverse range of expertise in chemistry, molecular biology and microbiology. This is possible as Darren provides support for his students to upskill in areas outside of the research group and encourages collaboration with other groups. This has led to a number of successful collaborations over the last year both within the SSPC. These collaborations have broadened the skillsets within the group and provided opportunities for members of the group to work with researchers at the forefront of their fields.

As well as technical expertise with scientific procedures, Darren is committed to ensuring that all students develop key skills for future employment such as the ability to present work to both the scientific and wider communities. Over the last year he has achieved this through encouraging students to present research at scientific conferences as well as taking part in a broad range of EPE activities. This has resulted in members of the group receiving a number of awards while presenting the group’s research over the last year. For example, SSPC associate member Lewis More O’Ferrall was the winner of the Young Medicinal Chemist Meeting in Ireland Issued by The Institute of Chemistry of Ireland in May 2023 and was subsequently selected to represent Ireland. In September 2023 as the first Irish invited speaker at the 10th EFMC Young Medicinal Chemist Symposium (EFMC-YMCS) in Zagreb. Members of the group were also involved in the SFI- funded RCSI Engage Junior Researcher Programme carried out at the beginning of the year focussed on encouraging primary school students to pursue careers in the STEM field

Darren’s support and guidance plays a pivotal role in providing members of the group with the skills necessary to complete research within the lab. Following completion of this research, Darren has played a central role in guiding junior researchers to compile results from the lab and present them for publication. This has culminated in a number of research outputs from the group in top journals, with Darren ensuring members of the group gained experience in every step of the publishing process, from draft writing to replying to reviewer’s comments. For instance, over the last year Paul O’Dowd has published 4 senior author papers and Lewis More O’Ferrall has published 1 senior author paper. Moreover, Darren insured the important work of Undergraduate (Chloe Hobbs) and Masters (Darragh Sutcliffe) students was recognised in this work, with both students included as authors in the work mentioned. The results of these outputs resulted in Paul O’Dowd receiving the RCSI Research Output Impact Award for 2023, an achievement which would not have been possible without the support and guidance of Darren.

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