From Turkey to Japan: the key point is to know what you want

By . Published on 25 April 2017 in:
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Gülfem SÜSOY DOĞAN is a young researcher in nuclear physics at Istanbul University. She obtained a Master degree in 2010 and a PhD degree in 2015 from the Istanbul University Nuclear Physics Division.

She worked as a guest researcher at Osaka University in 2014-2015 (based in Japan) and participated in nuclear physics experiments at Caen-France GANIL, at Tokyo HIMAC Research Centre and at Yale University.

She received “The Best Experimental Poster Award” at FINUSTAR-3 (3rd International Conference on Frontiers in Nuclear Structure, Astrophysics and Reactions) in 2010, the “TÜBİTAK 2214 PhD Sequence International Research Fellowship” in 2014 and the “Turkish Physics Society Prof. Dr. Şevket Erk Young Scientist Award” in 2016.

We report on an interview between Gülfem [GSD] and Lucia Di Ciaccio [LDC], Chair of the Equal Opportunity Committee of EPS.


LDC. Why did you choose to study physics?

GSD. Maths and Physics were my favourite subjects and by the time I graduated in high school, I knew I wanted to study these two subjects. From that point on, everything fell into place.

LDC. Any worry to match your family life and a career in physics?

GSD. No, not at all, even though I am aware that a successful matching is not something that one can easily achieve alone: the family and spouse support plays an important role. And knowing what you really want to do is the key point to overcome all the challenges. I was lucky that my family (including my husband after 2013) supported me all the time.

LDC. What has been the personal most rewarding experience and also the biggest difficulty encountered so far in your career?

GSD. The best experience I had was when I went to Osaka University as a guest researcher after I obtained the Tubitak fellowship. The biggest difficulty I encountered was when I started my Master studies. I had to improve my English (especially speaking). This was a big step for me to climb.

LDC. What is the proportion of women in your Institute ?

GSD. In my Institute, the number of female physicists is roughly equal to the number of male physicists, perhaps even exceeding it slightly).

LDC. Did you encounter any difficulty in finding funding for PhD or a post-doc position related to the fact that you are a woman?

GSD. No, not at all. The advantage for me was that after my Master degree in 2010, I was awarded a Research Assistant position at İstanbul University. This opened some doors to use the University budget, which allowed me to continue my studies as a PhD student.

LDC. Any suggestion to guarantee a balanced gender representation in positions of responsibility in physics?

GSD. Although the number of female academicians has been rapidly increasing in recent years in Turkey, the mostly encountered problem for women is balancing the job with family and private life. One suggestion (perhaps the most important one) is that Institutes should provide a daily care place for babies. It is not easy to have this facility everywhere. Having the possibility to rely on it, we, as women researchers, would have an easier life during the day when we are at work and it would increase our efficiency.

LDC. Any particular advice for a young aspiring researcher?

GSD.  I can recommend to the young aspiring students to improve themselves in terms of English, to be patient with difficulties, and to be in peace with themselves. With all these achievements, they can do things that are beneficial to peace and humanity.

LDC. Do you have any female physicist “cult figure”?

GSD. Not, really, but I like to think to the many well known successful female physicists in the history of Physics such as Marie Curie.

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