Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Emine Sumeyra Turali Emre

Imagine: a super tiny robot equipped with the technology to enter your body and figure out exactly what is wrong, and then even deliver a drug/DNA straight to where it is needed. This is what Sumeyra daydreamed about as a teenager, making sketches in her notebooks of nano-robots as medical heroes. Then one day in her sophomore year at Istanbul University, she attended a seminar that changed everything. “They were talking about nanoparticles and nano-robots, and they showed the same images that I had been drawing myself! I thought, there it is! That’s what I want to do.

Armed with the information she needed to turn her dreams into reality, Sumeyra immersed herself in nanotechnology. She read countless papers, talked to her professors in Yeditepe University, and eventually reached out to her current PI, Professor Kotov. He invited her to travel from her home in Turkey to his lab here at the University of Michigan to work with him for 3 months. “I remember every detail like it was yesterday, I had such a great time here.” Sumeyra’s eyes light up when she talks about her work, and her smile is contagious.

Her hard work and passion paid off as she was awarded the prestigious Turkish Ministry of Education Scholarship, allowing her to dive into her graduate studies at the University of Michigan. As luck would have it, her husband received the same scholarship. Together they courageously dedicated themselves to rigorous research training in a new country and a different language. “Being in another country and not speaking your own language is hard, especially being far away from your family. I’m glad I came here with my husband, I cannot imagine if I came here alone.

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Now Sumeyra has completed both her Master’s degree and her qualifying exam, and is the proud mother of two-year-old Talha. Every day she expertly structures her time so that she can efficiently complete her experiments in time to pick him up from daycare, just 6 minutes away from her lab. Talha loves animals, especially feeding the squirrels. “I taught him sign language so that he could communicate with us from 9 months old,” Sumeyra smiles, tapping her knuckles together in the sign for squirrel—one of her son’s favorite signs. “It made him calmer, because he’s able to tell us what he wants.” In her spare time when she’s not playing with her son, Sumeyra enjoys swimming, pilates, being in nature, or relaxing her mind with a good book. She especially loves reading about child development, picking up tricks on encouraging healthy eating habits, potty training techniques, and child psychology.

I’m not sure how she finds the time, but Sumeyra is an active member of the University of Michigan community. Last year she served as an Outreach Co-Chair for the Graduate Rackham International (GRIN) student organization, where she helped organize events such as an outing to the Trampoline Park, the Graduate Student Appreciation Week with Rackham Student Government, and movie nights. This year she is looking forward to serving as GRIN’s Professional Development Co-Chair. She is also an active member of Society for Biomaterials (SFB) Univeristy of Michigan Student Chapter and is currently helping to organize SFB Day, which will be hosted here at UM next fall. Last fall she served as the Engineering in Biological Systems Session Chair for the UM Engineering Graduate Symposium and earned 1st place for her research poster in the Tissue, Cellular, and Biomolecular Engineering Session. She is also an active member of GradSWE, and has especially enjoyed the Female Faculty Mixers, where she picked up useful tips on writing amidst a busy schedule. As Sumeyra adeptly manages her work-life balancing act, she is grateful for her PI’s kindness and understanding, and most of all for the loving support of her family, whom she Skypes with every night over dinner.

Once she and her husband complete their doctoral studies, they will return to Turkey to be professors as part of their scholarship contract. She will be faculty at Bursa Technical University, in a town outside of Istanbul that she describes as somewhat like Ann Arbor. There, Sumeyra hopes to establish collaborations between Turkey and the United States to continue her work in nanotechnology. As the medical field advances and gene therapy inches ever closer, Sumeyra’s work may well play an integral part in effective gene therapy delivery. One thing is clear: Sumeyra’s relentless passion is an inspiration, and we are proud to have her as an outstanding member of the GradSWE community.

When you think of our GradSWE community, who comes to mind? Nominate them for the GradSWE Member Spotlight here!

Written by Olivia Palmer; May 2017
General

Recap of the Year: 2016 – 2017

Thank you GradSWE members for all your support over the past year! We have had a tremendously successful year and are glad you were apart of it. Over the past year GradSWE has hosted over 44 events and have had over 300 members attend at least one of these events! A big shout out to our sponsors — the Office of Graduate Education, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Office — without your support all of this wouldn’t have been possible!

Welcome Dinner & End of the Year Party

We started off the year strong with our annual Welcome Dinner. This event has been growing every year, and this year we had a record of over 100 attendees! With primarily first year students in attendance, the Co-Directors gave an overview of GradSWE while everyone enjoyed a meal from Noodles and Company. The year ended with a painting party with painting instruction provided by Paint & Pour. Forty GradSWE members tried their hands at painting a Michigan themed masterpiece. And during breaks we helped ourselves to a delicious spread of fruit, charcuterie, cheese, and cookies. It was a great end to the academic year.

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Professional Development

Gender equality in the workplace was a big focus of professional development this year. Therefore, in addition to our traditional finance, computer/writing skills, and public speaking workshops, we collaborated with the Center for Entrepreneurship on a “Real Talk: Gender Equality in the Workplace” series. Our goal was to engage graduate students in conversations on real and difficult issues that many of us are currently facing or may face in future careers, and arm students with strategies to promote a more supportive work environment. Additionally, we partnered with the Office of Conflict Resolution to develop a monthly support group for graduate students as a safe space to discuss conflict, and learn effective strategies for resolving conflict.

Our Public Speaking Series received great response from the student community. The first talk ‘The secrets to giving a good scientific talk’ was given in the department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering by Dr. Aaron Ridley and Dr. Mike Liemohn. This talk focused on the ways one can improve a scientific talk visually as well as the orally. The second talk ‘How to give the Talk of a Lifetime’ by Dr. Anne Curzan, Associate Dean for Humanities, a TED speaker and influencer also received tremendous response. At the end of the year, we also collaborated with GRIN, WISE, MiLEAD in a Dining Etiquette Workshop, ‘The Art of Business Dining’ by Mr. Keith Soster, Director of Student Engagement for Michigan Dining.

Networking

This year the Networking co-officers organized a series of three lunches for female faculty members to mentor graduate students at small table discussions. The lunches were held in the summer, fall, and winter, and 50-80 students and professors attended each lunch. Tables were assigned topics relevant to graduate students such as publishing, mentoring, time management, finding postdocs etc. The professors at these tables mentored students about their specific table topic. Attendees said that they enjoyed interacting with women from fields other than their own, and that they liked meeting students and faculty in a friendly environment. This new style of luncheon was a success and we look forward to continue engaging with faculty members next year.

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Activities

pic03Last summer, we enjoyed kayaking down the Huron River, as well as a 3rd of July picnic at Fuller Park. In the fall, we found our way through a corn maze, and picked apples at Wasem’s Orchard. Back on campus, we also celebrated fall with two social hours with donuts and apple cider. To end the fall semester, we had a holiday party, where we made wreaths, hot cocoa mix, and gingerbread houses. During the winter, we enjoyed an afternoon of skating at Buhr park. We ended the semester with a painting party, and during finals week we destressed during a yoga + yogurt event with undergrad SWE.

 

Graduate Student Career Fair Reception

In the fall semester, GradSWE held a reception for company representatives and masters and PhD students to informally network the night prior to the SWE/TBP Career Fair. There were 17 companies represented and over 300 students in attendance. The reception provided a more relaxed atmosphere for students and corporate representatives to interact and network without resumes prior to the start of the career fair.

Region H Conference

On March 10-12, our SWE section hosted the Region H Conference. GradSWE members both attended the conference and planned some of the sessions. Grad student specific sessions included “Grad School Funding Workshop,” “ Finding a Research Position as a Student,”  and “Life as an Academic: the 5 W’s”. We were also involved in “Grad School Admissions Workshop,” “Which is Right for Me? Grad School or Industry?” and “Grad Student Panel”. GradSWE also partially sponsored 12 graduate students to attend the conference. Great job everyone!

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Photo Credit: Amy Blatt / Theresa Chick

Liberia SWE

In August 2016, four GradSWE students and five undergraduate SWE members traveled to Liberia and facilitated a 2 week residential leadership camp for undergraduate Liberian female students studying engineering from 3 Liberian universities. The camp focused on professional, academic, and student organization development. The style of the camp was primarily workshops, lectures, and hands-on engineering activities, developed and led by GradSWE members. The camp ended with a successful networking dinner that drew in over 70 attendees – both LSWE students and local engineers and educators. GradSWE members served as facilitators and leaders of the camp and developed the entire curriculum of the camp. UM SWE offered guidance and support in establishing LSWE as an official organization at the Liberian universities and are continuing working towards registering LSWE as an official SWE affiliate. Six LSWE students visited Ann Arbor in the fall hosted by UM SWE members and attended the society level SWE conference hosted in Philadelphia in October, 2016.

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GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS 2016: Stories from the Field

As our first week draws to a close, we are busy writing up the exciting things we did to share with all of you. In the meantime until we get that done, we wanted to share a few other blog posts.

We started a secondary blog to capture a few of the fine details of the L-SWE SUCCESS camp. Here are our first two posts:

We hope you enjoy them and will update more soon.

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS 2016: Early Team Report

Greetings from Liberia!

The U-M early team arrived in Liberia late on Wednesday, 10 August 2016. GarnersvilleWe are staying near Barnersville junction with one of the L-SWE students. Her family has been super nice these past few days.

Our first full day in Liberia was spent signing people up for the 2016 L-SWE SUCCESS camp. We visited the University of Liberia – Fendall Campus and watched the Engineering Concept Design Competition organized by GEMCESA (Geology, Electrical, Mining, and Civil Engineering Student Association at the University of Liberia) and sponsored by ExxonMobil and E-HELD (Excellence through Higher Education for Liberian Development). It was quite interesting to see the innovative ideas that the four Liberian project teams imagined. Everything from a car made entirely of Liberian-sourced parts to a set of waterways to improve transit to the Liberian interior.

We also visited the site of the 2016 camp, Rick’s Institute. It is a nice facility and we will share more photos during the camp.

The second day in Liberia was a purchasing day. We bought all sorts of supplies for camp. We spent American and Liberian money. Liberian dollars are called Liberty. One USD is anywhere from 80 to 100 LD depending on the exchange rate.

You can buy lots of things in Liberia in the capital that you would find in the States. They have everything from small roadside markets to bigger indoor grocery stores. We even visited a small store that was like a Liberian Costco – they only sold things by the case/carton/box.

On the third day (Saturday, 13 August 2016), hosted a pre-departure meeting at the E-HELD office on Old Road across from the Nigerian Embassy. We discussed expectations for the camp and answered questions.

Today (Sunday, 14 August 2016), the rest of the U-M team arrives. You will hear from them during the next two weeks. We cannot wait to share all of the great things that will be happening at the camp. The women engineers in Liberia are truly incredible. I, for one, cannot wait to meet more of them!

Uncategorized

GradSWE at UM: A Year in Review

Contributor: Meghan Richey

The year is coming to a close here at U of M! We wanted to take the time to look back at some of the great moments we’ve had in GradSWE over the school year, starting with last summer.

 

  1. Kayaking down the Huron River: What’s the best activity on a hot summer day in Ann Arbor? Grab your swimsuits and head down to Argo Park for a two-hour kayaking excursion down the river! A group of GradSWE members took advantage of a beautiful day in July for some great group bonding, followed by a picnic lunch.
  2. Blueberry Picking: Summer in Michigan is a great time for blueberry picking! Late August saw many of our members heading out to a farm to pick (and eat!) some of the best berries Michigan has to offer.
  3. National SWE Conference in Nashville, TN: Nine of our members attended WE15, where they were able to connect with other GradSWE chapters, learn about the role of women engineers in academia and the workplace, and attend a great career fair! They also took the time to check out the local sites in Nashville and on the road trip down, including Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
  4. Holiday Party: Our annual holiday party was very well-attended! We built gingerbread houses, listened to classic holiday tunes, and said goodbye to our graduating members.
  5. Cross-Country Skiing: In January, skiers of all skill levels hit the “slopes” (aka the Huron Hills Golf Course) to learn to cross-country ski! After a quick lesson, we set off on the trails through the golf courses, which included some small hills and beautiful scenery. We finished up the day with a picnic lunch in the ski lodge.
  6. Entrepreneurship Series: This semester, GradSWE was lucky to partner with the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship to hold workshops covering a wide range of topics- everything from building your own brand to fighting gender stereotypes in the workplace. The attendees were extremely impressed with the speakers and came away with valuable tips and tools to becoming more successful in her chosen field.
  7. Painting Party: For our February general body meeting, we had a do-it-yourself painting class! Members followed step-by-step instructions to create a garden scene. Every painting was unique, but all were beautiful!
  8. Female Faculty Mixers: These events were held many times throughout the year. Female faculty members joined GradSWE members for lunch to talk about careers in academia and their experiences in industry. These lunches were valuable for all attendees, and we loved hearing the personal stories of female professors!

GradSWE at U of M has had a great past year, and we’re looking forward to an even better summer! If you’re in the area, check out events we’ll be holding to come make new friends, reconnect with old friends, and have a great time with a great group of people! Thanks to everyone that helped make this year a wonderful experience, and have a great summer!

General

Applying Entrepreneurship Skills in Academia and Industry

Contributor: Maggie Reuter

When I first heard about the Center for Entrepreneurship series on Empowering Women Through Entrepreneurship, I assumed it didn’t really fit into my career path. I’m interested in becoming a professor, not heading to Silicon Valley to create a new app. But I decided to go some of the seminars when a mentor told me becoming a professor is like having your own mini startup. So I went and have found the seminars invaluable and inspiring. The speakers have helped me think about all kinds of skills we don’t often have a chance to get formal training in like navigating work relationships, building confidence in my abilities, and even organizing a timeline for my dissertation.

Over the past two weeks there have been two seminars: Building Your Personal Brand and Becoming an Effective Project Manager; led by Rachele Downs, Vice President Entrepreneurial Strategies at Inforum & Inforum Center for Leadership, and Susan Koenig, App Relations Manager at AdAdapted.

Rachele’s main points can be summed up with one of the first quotes of the seminar “own your energy and be memorable.” The key ideas about building your personal brand, according to Rachele, are confidence and preparation. Confidence in who you are, what you want to say, and establishing your network. Preparation in meetings, elevator pitches, the persona you want to present, and maintaining your social media presence. One idea I took away from Rachele’s talk was always have prepared elevator pitches that you can employ at any time 30 sec, 3 min, 10 min, or 30 min. You never know where you can find a connection or, in my case, a new research collaborator.

Susan’s approach to the seminar was more hands on, but just as helpful for professional development. We brainstormed in small groups about how to manage the design of a rocket car, while dealing with a theoretical team member who didn’t respect women. Susan then had suggestions about four different project management methods: Waterfall, Critical Path, Kanban, and Scrum. Her advice was inspire a sense of ownership in your team members, empower the people working for you while also teaching them, and make the scope and details of a project transparent so people are connected to the project as a whole. Two resources that I’ve started using since the workshop are Trello and The Girls Guide to Project Management.
I’m looking forward to the next seminar, Promoting and Selling Your Ideas to Non Technical People, and finding new and valuable entrepreneurial skills. I’ve always thought of these concepts being applied in industry, but I plan to use these skills to further my career in academia, too. In the future, I won’t be so quick to dismiss the workshops that teach us how to manage people, money, and our career.

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Exciting partnership with UM Center for Entrepreneurship

Contributors: Lauren Bilbo, Liz Dreyer, Maggie Reuter, Meghan Richey

SWE and GradSWE at U of M have started an exciting partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship (UMCFE). Throughout the semester, we will be holding six workshops covering a wide range of topics – from learning about entrepreneurship to building our own personal brand to becoming an effective project manager. All the workshops are led by talented women from around the university

This past Thursday (March 24th), we held our third workshop, titled “Strategies to Overcome Gender Stereotypes.” This was a great workshop! We first talked about how to recognize gender stereotypes and microaggressions, both in the workplace and in our everyday lives. The presenter, Elizabeth Rohr from UMCFE, explored different types of stereotypes and microaggressions that can make women feel isolated, uncomfortable, and unwelcome in male dominated fields. The entire workshop was highly interactive, and we were able to share personal experiences and brainstorm solutions to problems we face, such as sizeism, sexist language, and assumptions of inferiority, among other topics.

I believe these microaggressions are a rampant problem even in climates that are striving to promote diversity and inclusion. The danger of these microaggressions is the hostile climate it creates for women, and the simple fact is that the perpetrators of the climate are mostly unaware of how they are hurting the women around them. Every woman at this workshop had a story about her current struggle with these issues, and the few men present were mostly surprised by the issues raised. This is why these workshops are vital for women in STEM. We need to find both a sense of community and learn how to effectively communicate to our peers on the real issues we face. 

I have personally faced microaggressions with a male professor I briefly worked for. I was forced to communicate through another male professor because my emails were constantly ignored. In meetings I felt undervalued, attacked, and inferior. It was difficult to share these experience when friends would brush off the sexist undertones I felt in these interactions. Going to the UMCFE workshop helped me feel that I am not alone in these struggles, that I am not crazy, that I have a support network of women and men who understand. 

Since engineering is a traditionally male-dominated field, many women engineers have faced these types of stereotypes and microagressions. It’s sometimes hard to know what to say or how to deal with it, so I’ve really enjoyed learning about how to empower myself and those around me. UMCFE has done a great job of providing useful information on how we, as female engineers, can realize that we can successfully navigate the engineering field.

GradSWE and SWE are very excited about this partnership, and we’re looking forward to the next workshop. Join us on Thursday, March 31st in the GM Room (Lurie building, 4th floor) for “Building your personal brand”. 

 

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS Day 6: Flag Day!

Monday, August 27, is a national holiday in Liberia. We took the morning off in observance. In the morning, several of the UM students went to visit the market in Kakata to buy lappas (a term describing printed cloth used to make African clothes, usually sold in “lappas” or 1-yard lengths). Some students opted to lounge for the morning, sleeping, “lecturing” (casual conversation), or crafting SWE printed hairties for the group.

In the afternoon, our second engineering activity of the camp commenced! Sahithya introduced the Delta Design project, an imaginative housing design project set on a different planet. Each Delta Design team had members assigned the role of structural engineer, thermal engineer, architect, and project manager. The roles had complex tasks that they were trained to do for the team in order for each design to be the best. In comparison with the Bottle Rock project, the Delta Design project was intended for the students to work in interdisciplinary teams, where they had to work with and depend on experts outside of their own fields, communicate their results to others with potentially conflicting interests, and trust each other’s recommendations.

Students train according to their roles for the Delta Design Project

After a grueling afternoon of calculations, its was time for….

Dancing for Flag Day

Best day ever.

It was like… WOW.

 

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS Day 5: Sunday Bluffing

*Bluffing: Liberian colloqua for walking around while looking good, and knowin’ it. 🙂

Sunday was a day of rest, and a field trip! In the morning, some students went to various places of worship around Kakata, and others stayed in for some welcome R&R. Around 1pm, we piled onto the L-SWE bus— it definitely brought us closer together!— and headed off to see the Bong Mines. Unfortunately, when we got to the mines, we found out they were not providing escorts to enter that day, so instead we drove to find a nearby river to picnic beside.

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L-SWE on the road from Bong Mines

Our bus driver (a rare woman driver) was a master of navigating turns, steep hills and treacherously uneven roads. We had to empty the bus a few times for it to get up a particularly steep hill. But eventually we got to the river and, as would become the norm, it turned into a photo shoot.

L-SWE Photo Shoot at the River

It was a good day, and a nice way to close out the first week of the SUCCESS camp!

GradSWE Overseas, Liberia

L-SWE SUCCESS: The Miracle You Searched For

This is our first guest post from L-SWE! The author is Edith Tarplah, a junior student at University of Liberia and President of L-SWE.

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People search for miracle in places they feel it might exist, but fail to realize that at the time the miracle they wish is starring them in the face.
Having a group of female engineers coming together despite their diversities in their field of study and in their lives as a person, to organize a camp that will mold minds and lives of undergraduate female engineering students in Liberia is like a long awaited miracle that many have searched for.
It is difficult to be a female student in Liberia, yet alone say an engineering female student. As a student you need series of activities in your school life that will encourage you to continue even though it is difficult to get funding, but instead you are faced with frustrations on a daily basis. These make you go to school because you have to, not because you want to.
Thus having other female engineering students giving up their time to come to Liberia to encourage and promote networking amongst engineering student and professionals, giving students the opportunity of having a one-on-one conversation about their field of studies and how things actually work in the real world is a miracle.

The big question is “Will students realize that their miracle is here? Or will they keep searching?”

Personally my journey of realizing my miracle started a few months ago when the UM graduate students came to Liberia for two weeks to build the foundation for the L-SWE SUCCESS camp. They organized a professional interactive dinner for engineering students and professionals which was a success. I got acquainted with many engineering professionals because of that dinner, who are people that I contact on a regularly to seek professional advice.

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The organizers of the L-SWE success camp have made it a point to help students recognize opportunities and show them how to make maximum use of it. This is done through sessions and social activities amongst the students and supervisors. It is because of these sessions I got to know the difference between getting masters and a PhD ( something so common that one will laugh if they come to hear that a fourth year university student cannot tell the difference). It might be funny, but it is the truth. Through these sessions I have also learned that the root cause of the educational hazards in Liberia is the lack of funding. Due to the low funding, the Ministry of Education has to lobby around for funds before getting some of their projects implemented, which causes delay in the school system leading to a sub-standard curriculum.
Now that I know the root cause, I see and explain things differently.
The loads of information I’m gaining in this camp, gives me a whole new level of confidence to continue my studies and even aim for a higher goal. It has also helped me learn how to value myself and have a open mind about things that may come my way.
Thus L-SWE SUCCESS camp is my miracle I searched for. What is yours?