Turkish professor elected to prominent US science institution
İvet Bahar from the University of Pittsburgh, who worked on pharmaceutical designs, succeeded in being the first Turkish woman to be chosen to be a member of the 157-year-old academy.
The academic, who is also involved in a drug development project that will cure COVID-19, made a speech at the White House in 2016 as a guest of the former U.S. President Barack Obama.
She was selected as a member, which is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive, for her “outstanding contributions” to computational biology.
“This selection actually means that the research I’ve conducted so far is accepted by a respected scientific institution. This makes one proud, of course,” Bahar said.
Bahar explained that she worked on material science after her 15-year career at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University Chemical Engineering Department.
“In line with the great advances in genome technology, computer-aided computational biology gained importance. I continued to do computer-aided research by applying the methods that I did to polymers to biological systems,” she said.
“What we do is to work on how biological processes work on the computer, how interactions between molecules take place,” she noted.
“Our simulations shed light on the experiments that will be done later. It serves to reduce the number of experiments and to shorten the time to be reached for the results,” Bahar added.
The academy, of which 190 members were Nobel laureates and has a total of 2,900 members, was founded in 1863 to inform the president of the U.S. on science and technology issues.
The academy had chosen Nobel laureate Turkish scientist Aziz Sancar in 2005 and Turkish economics professor Daron Acemoğlu at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2014.
Geophysical Engineer Celal Şengör and anthropologist Mustafa Özdoğan are also among the Turkish members of the academy.