Derek Jones serves as product manager for myRESEARCHhome, a self-service portal that offers access to a host of research tools at Duke. In his role, Derek engages with Duke faculty and staff to determine what the biggest hurdles are to navigating the research landscape and how myRESEARCHhome can help solve those problems.
Derek came to Duke 12 years ago from southern California. After completing his Master’s of Divinity at Duke, he began working as a clinical research coordinator in pulmonary medicine. He helped conduct research on decision making and communications, which led to his interest in understanding researcher frustrations and determining ways to alleviate that frustration.
“I really enjoy listening to people and meeting them at a moment of frustration,” Derek said. “I like being able to understand how we’re not meeting their needs as a research institution and how we can make it better.”
One of the aspects Derek enjoys most about his job is meeting with different administrators across campus to discuss pain points related to managing research projects or knowing what training or funding opportunities are available. In one memorable series of meetings, he learned that researchers found it difficult to find relevant research funding opportunities offered at Duke. He took this feedback and, with the help of his team, developed the myRESEARCHhome funding opportunity widget to channel internal and external funding announcements into one easily navigable location.
Derek relies on his Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) colleagues and their vast network of connections to the Duke research community to gain access to study teams and administrations and learn how best to support the research enterprise here. Connections made through the myRESEARCHnavigators and Workforce Development teams, for instance, has been an efficient and effective way to align his team’s efforts with the needs of the research community.
“It’s hard for one individual to understand or connect to all research areas,” he said. “My relationship with CTSI is critical. They’ve helped me develop relationships with groups I could have never reached.”
Derek and his family recently relocated to Iowa. Outside of work, Derek enjoys taking dance classes, a hobby he developed in college. He’s currently enrolled in a ballet class.
Throughout his time at Duke, Derek has enjoyed being around the ongoing research and innovation endeavors. He said the excitement of the academic environment has made his work feel more fulfilling.
“At the end of the day, we want to find something that is exciting and makes you feel like you’re making a meaningful contribution to the world,” Derek said. “The sense I get at Duke is that we’re tackling important questions that need to be answered, and that has really changed the way I think about my career.”