Duran well-prepared for future mentoring


dr. kristy l. duran

Adams State University Dr. Kristy L. Duran, assistant professor of biology, returned from the SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) Summer Leadership Institute energized to provide additional mentoring opportunities on campus.

"It was the best experience of my life," Duran said. The institute was held, from July 14 through July 18, at Stanford University. Duran was one of 30 chosen to attend, out of over 200 applicants. Attendees included scientists at all levels, from postdoctoral, early career, and mid-career levels.

The 2014 SACNAS SLI cohort engaged in an intensive five day course featuring a curriculum that focuses on issues specific to the needs of underrepresented minority science leadership, networking opportunities, and provides participants with take-away tools and individual leadership development planning to leverage leadership advancement at their home institutions.

"I am very passionate about mentoring our students and preparing them to become our future leaders in science," Duran added. She plans to work on developing better mentorship, funding opportunities for student research, and work on her leadership skills, including communication. "I am shy and can become reticent about expressing my ideas."

With help from the conference activities, including breaking into small groups to work on exercises, Duran connected with fellow scientists. "It was really amazing how close thirty of us became. It was a wonderful opportunity to build my scientific network." Four of the attendees, including Duran, were stranded in the airport on the way home. "Two of us even created a plan to collaborate on a particular research project. The entire experience was really empowering and I feel so much more confident."

According to sacnas.org, SACNAS is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists—from college students to professionals—to attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science.

"I have known about SACNAS since I was an undergrad," Duran said. She and Dr. Renee Beeton, associate professor of chemistry, started a student chapter at Adams State. Last year, Duran and students traveled to the National Conference. This year, a couple of the students were selected to present their research and six students were awarded travel scholarships from SACNAS.

Duran, a native of Antonito, Colo., said her experience at the SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute will benefit all her students. "I believe one way to improve retention rate in the sciences is to present students with information about all the opportunities available in this field. There are a variety of opportunities for students majoring in biology, including those that empower them to become our future leaders in science discovery and education."