collage of graham derzon photos

The Graham Derzon-Supplee Award Donation Form

A Note from Mikaela Lipsky: 

Dear Friends & Family, 

I had the privilege of having Graham as a dear friend and a chatty, enthusiastic chemistry lab partner. We spent a lot of time together, both in class and at KECK Science’s lab, where he worked towards his organismal biology degree with great tenacity and dedication. 

As many of you know, our beloved Graham was many things: a musician, friend to all animals, scientist, nature enthusiast, fashionista-in-training, and accomplished researcher. Although these were all passions he pursued with equal devotion, I believe Graham’s passion for deep learning and connection to all living beings laid the groundwork for so much of what he did. I feel as lucky for all that Graham taught me about ecosystems, tide pools, and reptiles, as for everything he taught me about curiosity, friendship, and authentic leadership. 

Please join Mike, Robin, Cory, and me in supporting the Graham Derzon-Supplee Award, intended to honor the many qualities his professors and peers so appreciated about him: his steadfast curiosity, continuous creativity, and impactful academic leadership.  

With Gratitude,

Mikaela Lipsky  

A note from Mike Derzon, Robin Supplee and Cory Derzon-Supplee:

Dear friends and family, 

We are so very thankful to Mikaela for initiating this award. As his family, we loved and admired Graham in countless ways, but because we never shared a college classroom with him, we did not have the opportunity to see him develop as a student. The process of creating this award has given us that chance.

Together with Mikaela, we reached out to several of his professors to ask for descriptors of Graham as a student. We knew he was a child who was filled with wonder from the moment he could turn over a rock or a rotten log, and it became clear from his teachers that this curiosity burst forth into an array of inspiring scientific skills and qualities. With this award, we hope to celebrate and honor future students who share some of Graham’s wonder, inquisitiveness, creativity, and leadership. We hope you will join us in making that possible.

With so much love for Graham,

Mike, Robin, and Cory

The Graham Derzon-Supplee Award

Graham Derzon-Supplee was a Pitzer graduate, class of 2022, who majored in organismal biology. As a student, Graham was driven by an enormous sense of wonder towards the natural world. His mentors noted his persistent inquisitiveness. They said that he saw science as a series of questions to be asked rather than facts to be known. He looked at datasets with new eyes, inspiring his classmates and teachers to ponder analyses they had not yet considered. His fellow students remember how he stood – smiling openly, fully present, encouraging others to be present themselves. His approachability, authenticity, and enthusiasm drew people to him, and he enjoyed helping others in all ways. Graham died the summer after his graduation. His impact while a student at Pitzer inspired the creation of this award.

The Graham Derzon-Supplee Award is given annually to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the academic and personal qualities that Graham exhibited as a student in the Science Department. These qualities include:

A sense of wonder


Scientific creativity


Willingness to assist others


The recipient of this award, as chosen by the Pitzer-Scripps science faculty, will receive $1500 and a pair of binoculars. Graham loved binoculars and was a remarkably patient observer. He could watch a roseate spoonbill feeding for well over an hour and could sit in wonder as a seastar walked slowly across his hand.

Any earnings of this endowment above the $1,500 distributed to the award will go to support the Pitzer Science Center’s  Summer Science Immersion Program. Because of this, if we raise more than our $50,000 goal, this additional support will serve to endow this program more generously, which supports incoming freshmen interested in studying science whose high school experience did not provide them with a strong science background.