P&N Professors Receive 2019 Award for Outstanding Postdoc Mentors at Duke

Thursday, October 10, 2019
Moffitt Caspi Yellow Barn

Drs. Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi of the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience have been named the 2019 Outstanding Postdoc Mentors at Duke.

In a congratulatory statement, the Duke Postdoctoral Awards committee shared that Moffitt and Caspi received “an amazing number of heartfelt nominations testifying to their support and encouragement of trainees.”

With charming candor, Dr. Moffitt shared her view on mentoring and training Duke postdocs: “I think the key to effective training is meetings. Postdocs receive rather a low salary, under the argument that they receive training free of charge, as partial payment. If I am not in there training our postdocs every week, they are getting robbed!”

This practical, attentive approach – coupled with the supportive nature that Terrie and Avshlom exude and cultivate in their lab – is widely admired by postdoc trainees.   

Dr. Jasmin Wertz, Posdoctoral Fellow and mentee for the past three years, believes Profs Moffitt and Caspi go above and beyond in several areas of their mentorship, including: providing feedback, generously giving their time, facilitating career guidance, modeling academic integrity and a healthy-work life balance, facilitating progression to independence for their mentees, an impeccable supervisory track record, and just being plain old fun!  

Former postdoc and current Assistant Professor at Penn State, Dr. Idan Shalev, shared, “Every single postdoc mentee working with Terrie and Avshalom goes on to secure a faculty position in an R1 institution, as likewise, I did. Even better, their kindness and affection makes one feel at home. I left my home country to join [the “Grow Up, Grow Old”] lab. Terrie and Avshalom – or Temi and Av as their colleagues and friends come to know them – were not only the best postdoc mentors I could wish for professionally, they also became my family away from home, and literally and regularly invited me to their home.”

The themes of support and encouragement echo loudly among the Moffitt-Caspi postdoc community. Former postdoc, Dr. Madeline Meier, now an Assistant Professor at Arizona State refers to the two as ‘the dynamic duo” and shared a very meaningful component of Moffitt and Caspi’s mentorship: work-life balance. “They model and encourage work-life balance for their trainees.  This is amazing and reduces stress. They supported me as a mother and scientist. I had two young children under the age of 5 when I was a postdoc for Temi and Av. They made my career as an academic mother seamless and easy. I won the lottery by getting the opportunity to work with Temi and Av. I am much richer now for it. I cannot say enough about how much I respect this dynamic duo and appreciate what they have done for me. They deserve recognition as exemplars of excellent postdoctoral mentors.”

Along with their academic research, Moffitt and Caspi’s passion is their family farm.

Terrie Moffitt, Ph.D., is the Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology at Duke University, and Avshalom Caspi, Ph.D., is the Edward M. Arnett Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University. A brief awards ceremony – known as Postdoctoberfest – was held on Friday, October 4. For more information visit Postdoc Mentor at Duke Hall of Fame.