When did you take part in the EPSA Fellowship initiative?
2015, i.e., the very first cohort of EPSA Fellows.
What were you doing when you applied for an EPSA Fellowship?
In 2015, I was working as a post-doc in a plant physiology lab in İstanbul, and I was a third-year PhD student in philosophy in İzmir. (I completed my PhD in biology in 2011.) So I was a post-doc in biology and a PhD student in philosophy at the same time.
Right after I finished my PhD, I looked for jobs in biology and fellowships for studying philosophy of biology. I did not know the philosophy of biology groups well, but I tried my best to communicate with several professors around the world. However, departments that were interested in my work required long application processes, including expensive exams, which I could not afford at that time.
In Turkey, I knew only very few philosophers interested in philosophy of biology. Although one of them gave me some recommendations, none were interested in plant physiology. And several times I felt like some of them were not acknowledging my PhD in biology, but just considering me as someone with no philosophy bachelor’s degree. I think there were several reasons for this, but I believe one of the reasons was that I was a young woman.
In 2012, I began my philosophy PhD (without a scholarship) in İzmir. My family is based there, so I was living with them. I kept looking for jobs/fellowships both in biology and philosophy departments.
In the middle of my PhD course year (2013), I got my first post-doc job in the Plant Physiology Lab of Sabancı University in İstanbul, so I moved out of İzmir. I then followed several philosophy courses in İstanbul's universities. Two of them were Prof. Gürol Irzık’s “Philosophy of Science” and “Science and Society” courses which were very influential for me and helped me very much in general philosophy of science and in improving my ability to better express the philosophical aspects of my research experiences.
Three years of working as a post-doc with many responsibilities in a very big plant physiology project, while simultaneously building a philosophy background, was a bit exhausting but also a very valuable experience. I had chance to work with very good scientists, we did many important experiments, guided graduate students and published several good papers in plant science.
I applied to the EPSA Fellowship in the middle of these three years.
How did you hear about the Fellowship initiative, and what made you think of applying?
I got to learn about the EPSA and became a member in 2014, while I was taking a philosophy of science course at Sabancı University. I first heard about the Fellowship scheme through the EPSA's mailing list.
I applied for the EPSA Fellowship because I was looking for a way to begin to work in a philosophy department, and I thought that a research fellowship would be helpful for me to better consider my plans and possibilities. Moreover, there was no one I knew of who was working on philosophy of plant biology in Turkey.
What did you find attractive about the EPSA Fellowship initiative?
I liked the idea of visiting a very good centre and experiencing its environment and how it works. I did not have the funding to do such a visit to a philosophy centre on my own. So this was an amazing opportunity.
Which research institution did you visit?
I was an EPSA Fellow at Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences at the University of Exeter (UK).
How do you think your EPSA Fellowship has affected your career?
When I was preparing my application, I knew that if I got a Fellowship it would be very good for me; and as soon as I began my Fellowship visit, I realized it was the perfect place for me considering my subject –plant science- in philosophy and of course also The Egenis’ wonderful environment.
The meetings/conversations with the people at Egenis, and with Prof. John Dupré especially, were very helpful to me. Even in those few weeks he helped me very much, so I could frame my ideas better and I began to create a project proposal which I continued to improve after my visit. We have kept in contact and together we applied Marie Curie Individual Fellowships. This year, I will be a Marie Curie Fellow, John will be my supervisor, and Egenis will be my host institute.
Would you encourage others to participate in the programme in the future? If so, why do you think it would be important/useful for the development of their academic career?
I strongly encourage others to participate in the programme. It is a valuable opportunity for junior philosophers to visit very good Institutes. I am sure this can be very important/useful for the development of their career, “how exactly” depends on their stories I guess.