Fourth Year, Biophysics

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey

Tell us about yourself!

I’m from Turkey, where scientists are not appreciated nearly as much as they are in the US, and there aren’t a lot of job opportunities for scientists besides staying in academia. Having my mom as a role model, a math professor at Bogazici University, has inspired me and made me realize from a young age how great it is to be a scientist. I didn’t listen to anyone who told me I would be hungry in the future if I did science for living! With my parents’ support, I pursued my dreams, applied for many graduate schools in the US and got accepted by UofM PIBS in the Department of Biophysics. It was hard in the beginning, since I hadn’t been to the US before, I didn’t know anyone in Michigan, and I was trying to adapt to this totally different culture with my poor English. However, now I can definitely say that this was the best decision I ever made.”

What three words would you choose to describe yourself?

“Responsible, Adventurous, Honest”


What is your favorite thing about your current program?

“Biophysics is an interdisciplinary program, giving us the opportunity to choose advisors with diverse backgrounds. We have affiliated faculty from various departments, like physics, engineering, etc., which is important for people who haven’t decided what to work on in their PhD’s. Thanks to that, I’m doing research in a completely different field than my background.”

What factors or interests led you to choose your current program or field?

“I’ve always been interested in biological research. I want to contribute to medicine and to be able to help people who suffer from incurable diseases, since I’ve seen a lot of people in my immediate circle suffering from them. I also believe that quantitative and computational research contribute to science in many powerful ways. Therefore, I wanted to do biological research in a quantitative way, and that’s how I ended up in this field.”

What do you like to do when you have free time?

“I try to run every day. Besides that, I enjoy hanging out with the people I love and traveling to different places.”

What’s your secret for time-management and being productive?

I force myself to plan fun activities. It makes me more motivated in the rest of my time, because I have to be more productive to get things done. That’s how I manage the work/life balance while still being productive.”

Tell us about a challenge you ran into in your educational training and how you overcame it.

“I chose an advisor whose research was in a completely different area than my background. Therefore, many times I felt that I wasn’t qualified enough to have a PhD in this area. But I didn’t let these thoughts stop me. Instead, I kept taking classes and reading papers to improve myself. Now I feel much more comfortable with my research than before.”

How did other people help you get to where you are today?

“First of all, my family is and has always been supportive for every step of my academic life, and they believed in my potential. Also, my professors from my undergraduate university encouraged me to apply to the best schools in the US, even though I didn’t believe that I could get in, and that’s how I’m here now.”

What is your greatest source of inspiration to keep pushing toward completing your goals?

“My mom, who is a math professor, has always been my source of inspiration since my childhood. She did not receive any support from her parents and this made me believe that everything is possible with ambition and will.”

What’s the best advice someone gave you that you still use today?

Don’t be afraid of changing fields and doing something different than your background. A PhD is a great time to learn new things. Choose your advisor wisely. A great scientist isn’t necessarily a great advisor.”

Can students and trainees contact you directly?

“Yes. They can contact me about anything! My email is”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Spotlights are created with the help of Nnamdi Edokobi, third-year PhD candidate, Pharmacology Department.