Aziz Sancar, MD, PhD, a winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Harriet Fulbright Institute (HFI) have announced the creation of the Prof. Aziz Sancar Girls in STEM Project, a nationwide endeavor to engage 700 sixth-grade girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education throughout Turkey, Sancar’s home country.
The project, presented by HFI and the Institute of Technology, Education, and Diplomacy (INTED), will span seven cities and include a series of three-day conferences at universities throughout the spring starting April 8 in the city of Zonguldak and ending in Istanbul May 21. In the city of Sanliurfa on April 22 and 23, Syrian refugees will participate with Turkish students. The project will culminate with an award ceremony and international conference May 24, during which professor Sancar will give the keynote address and host dignitaries from around the world.
“I believe in universal education, and we must address the gender gap in education in all countries,” said Sancar, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine. “As someone from rural Turkey, I understand the power of education. I know what it has done in my life. I want all girls in Turkey and around the world to have the same opportunity I had.”
There are three main goals of the project:
• To raise awareness of STEM among young female students in Turkey
• To acknowledge the importance of STEM at an early age
• To encourage students to pursue STEM in their future education
In each city, the conference will begin on a Friday with a panel discussion among local educators and an internationally recognized leader in STEM. The focus will be on the importance of girls’ education, the role of STEM in that education, how the weekend project can have an effect on girls’ education, and how it could build sustainable development in Turkey.
The Saturday sessions will focus on the creation of group products using STEM skills. The students will present their work Sunday morning, and in the afternoon a committee will select the best group projects. Each girl from the top two groups will enter a drawing to win tuition to a special STEM summer school program in the United States or South Korea.
“We hope this is a beginning,” Sancar said. “We want to close the gender gap in education and in the workforce in Turkey, and this is one way we can encourage that to begin, to inspire girls to get involved in STEM.”
In Turkey, 9.4 percent of the female population is illiterate, compared to 1.9 percent of the male population, and the country ranks 125 out of 142 in the most recent Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum.
For more information about the Prof. Aziz Sancar Girls in STEM project, check its website.
Sancar, who has been a professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill since 1982, was one of three winners of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his groundbreaking work on DNA repair. He is a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-founder of the Aziz and Gwen Sancar Foundation in Chapel Hill, NC.
The Prof. Aziz Sancar Girls in Stem Project is the brainchild of Gokhan Coskun, the founder and CEO of the Harriet Fulbright Institute, and his wife Casey. They are the primary funders of the program, which also receives financial help from sponsors, including Samsung, Turkish Airways, Ewha Womans University, as well as friends and families of Gokhan and Casey Coskun.
Media contact: Mark Derewicz, 919-923-0959, email@example.com