Unique Scientist: Nurdan Ersöz

Time to meet Nurdan Ersöz (She/her)! Nurdan is a biotechnology PhD student at Hacettepe University in Turkey!

What kind of scientist are you?
I think I’m a stargazer, meaning both idealist and dreamer Ph.D. student in biotechnology. I do still believe in “if there is a will, there is a way. Thus far everything sounds good and positive, right? Unfortunately, it is not. Most of the collaboratives, academicians, and even my family members judge my physical appearance instead of exploring this motivation. Gender discrimination in Turkey is red-facedly common even among universities. Because I’m a former rugby player and doing CrossFit and lifting weights, having a strange(!) haircut, a piercing, and tattoos, they think I’m not responsible or formal enough to do research.

What made you want to become a scientist?
Oops, story time! In one class of my undergraduate education, I suffered an affront from my lecturer who thought I could not use my brain because I had sunglasses on my head. Someone needed to take basic anatomy 101! 🙂 The lecturer believed this so hard… that I could not be anything in life. Guess what? I’m a collaborator with this person now 🙂 So what made me want to become a scientist is that they say I can’t. All I needed to direct my sense of wonder to research.

“I’m a cross-training addict. All those liftings, jumping, hand-standing, and climbing, doing exercises gives me a healthy mind.”

Nurdan Ersöz

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I think I’m a #UniqueScientist because of not looking like a scientist and being a woman. I’m so sick and tired of dinosaur-like stereotype rules. Regardless of outfit and gender, everyone can work for a job they want.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I do lift, bro! I’m a cross-training addict. All those liftings, jumping, hand-standing, and climbing, doing exercises gives me a healthy mind. I know I can cross the boundaries every time I add more weight and I can survive the ups and downs of life for every burpee.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would use my wish to change the dependence of science in a person’s subjective perspective. I mean old people in science have – or think they have – unnecessarily more power than newbies which loops things forever. Because oldies try to rasp newbies as they were rasped once. If I had one wish I’d like to change this plague.

“I would use my wish to change the dependence of science in a person’s subjective perspective.”

Nurdan Ersöz

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Women power! My mum, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Canan Dagdeviren, farmer women who fought in the battle of Turkey, Women of SOMA (Manisa, Turkey) who created new jobs and areas to live and feed their children after they lost their husbands in a huge pit accident. I am inspired every single day and the most by being women even in such a patriarchal world.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I said I am a stargazer before. My grandma is so sick and she has a front yard to plant some veggies. But she could not spade because of her backache. The last spading was a long time ago, so the ground turned into stone. But hey I do lift bro and I did spade the yard, fight against roots of ivy, and plant her seeds. Even though my hands got blisters a lot, the happiness in her face is totally worth it. So I am so proud of myself for this.


#WomenInSTEM

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