Where are you from and where did you complete your undergraduate studies?
I grew up and spent most of my early life in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. I have completed my undergraduate degree in Bilkent University, which is one of the major academic institutions in the Middle Eastern region.
What is your research about and why are you excited about your project?
My current research focuses on diagnosis and margin assessment of breast cancer specimens using two‐photon microscopy (TPM). The current standard for the management of breast cancers is a technique called “lumpectomy”, which refers to the excision of only the cancerous mass without removing the whole breast. In this approach, it is critical that the edges of the removed tumorous tissue are clear from cancer cells. Currently the edges of the specimen are analyzed with histological assessment, which takes 24 to 48 hour to be completed, and if the specimen is found to include cancer cells then patient is recalled for a second operation. Unfortunately a second operation becomes necessary close to 40% of patients. Using TPM, we are able to generate images that closely resembles to histological images within a few minutes after surgical resection. This enables the possibility to assess the margins of the excised tissue intraoperatively so that the surgeon can immediately remove additional tissue if it is required. This approach holds the promise to significantly reduce the amount of additional surgeries required until complete eradication of the tumor mass is achieved. This will reduce both the patient anxiety as well as the health care cost associated with additional operations.
What do you like to do outside of research and academics?
Considering the highly stressful nature of pursuing a graduate degree, I believe that having a reasonable amount of “out of lab“ activity is key for achieving sustainable success as well as maintaining a balanced physical and mental well being. For this reason I hang out with my friends at least once a week and we participate in social activities such as going to the movie theater, playing bowling, ice skating or just getting together in a café for a relaxing discussion. I am also fond of some sports such as soccer and sailing which I try to do as often as I can.
What are your career goals and future plans?
Although one's career after graduation highly depends on the course and the level of success of his graduate studies, which is hard to predict beforehand, still my plan for the future is to continue research activities in the form of being professor in a university. Therefore, my immediate plan after graduation is to conduct post-doctoral studies in an area upon which I can base my future research interest.