Graduate Nurdan Erdem (BIO 2017, EE 2018) chose the Institute of Science and Technology Austria for her PhD. We spoke with Nurdan about her school choices and her current studies, and she told us her story to inspire other students who wish to pursue an education abroad.
Nurdan Erdem, Sabancı University Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering (2017), Computer Science and Engineering double major 2018 graduate
MS: Which university did you choose for your graduate degree? What have you been going through?
NE: I started a PhD at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria in Fall 2018. This is an institute specializing on natural sciences and computer sciences. It is different from other PhD programs in Europe. Instead of being accepted to a project or a laboratory, you are accepted to a school. Similar to the freedom to choose academic programs in Sabancı, here you can pursue a PhD in any subject you want, provided you take some additional courses. You rotate between projects led by at least three different professors in your first year, which helps you to choose the subject and advisor you would be most comfortable with.
MS: What were the reasons you chose Institute of Science and Technology Austria?
NE: The major reason was its tenet of interdisciplinary research, which was what I was used to at Sabancı.
MS: What are you working on?
NE: I haven't chosen my PhD project yet, but I want to work in Computational & Systems Biology. In my first rotation project, I worked in the Synthetic Biology lab on the evolution of transcription terminators. In my second rotation project in bioinformatics, I am now working on determining the genes in the gender chromosomes of naked mole-rats.
“I did projects with many different professors at Sabancı, and their letters of reference were a major factor in my acceptance.”
Nurdan Erdem and Yağmur Yıldızhan
MS: What reasons other than academic achievement were factors in your admission?
The major factor in my PhD acceptance was the paid internship I completed in the summer of 2016 on "Mathematical Modeling of Evolution". I did projects with many different professors at Sabancı, and their letters of reference were a major factor in my acceptance. That is why I recommend PhD candidates to focus on their compulsory summer internship, and take part in research projects with their professors at Sabancı.