November is a month where we feel multiple seasons all at once; it is the last month of fall with wonderful fall colors of burned reds, oranges, and browns. November usually also has weeks of Indian Summer where we almost feel like we can go back and swim, while the second half makes us run for our winter coats with a cold, damp weather, reminding us that winter is coming . . .

Even though these unpredictable weather fluctuations throw us off a bit, November always comes with celebrations and remembrances.

Referring to 2021 November Newsletter -- we are only one year shy away from our third decade and have already seen extraordinary developments and our fast march towards excellence in education and scientific research has indeed accelerated in recent years.

On the European Research Council (ERC) front, another exceptional achievement has been realized by Koç University ! Four leading researchers have been awarded with ERC Starting Grant funding to conduct world-leading research across multiple disciplines. Assoc. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, received her second Starting Grant on spatiotemporal regulation of centriolar satellite homeostasis, making her the first researcher to receive this support twice in life sciences. Asst. Prof. Barış Yıldız, Department of Industrial Engineering, received our first Koç University ERC in Industrial Engineering with his project 'A New Perspective on City Logistics: Concepts, Theory, and Models for Designing and Managing Logistics as a Service'. Assoc. Prof. Selim Erdem Aytaç, Department of International Relations, received a grant on 'DEPOLARIZE: Affective Polarization and Democratic Attitudes'. The fourth project goes to Dr. Erkan Aydın, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, who is hosting his project at our university where he focuses on INPERSPACE: Ultra-efficient and stable perovskite tandem solar cells for extreme conditions in space. This year, ERC granted these starting funds only to our University from Türkiye and with these new additions, 27 out of 47 ERC Grants in Türkiye are now awarded to Koç University.

Two of our bright scientists received TÜBA-GEBİP Awards, given annually to encourage, appreciate and reward scientists. Assist. Prof. Sedef Turper Alışık, Department of International Relations, whose work on political attitudes and migration studies contributes to the development of effective policies as well as academic writing on the social cohesion of immigrants, and Assist. Prof. Safacan Kölemen, Department of Chemistry, with his research at the intersection of organic chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry and chemical biology aims to develop drug candidates for cancer treatment and molecular sensors for bioimaging studies, are the recipients this year. Koç University ranks first in Türkiye with 77 faculty members awarded the TÜBA-GEBİP Award since its inception in 2001.

Wholehearted congratulations are due to all of our researchers for their outstanding accomplishments.

November bears with it a most important solemn observance and remembrance where we mourn the Founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who passed away on November 10th, 1938, 84 years ago. Atatürk was a truly great leader whose sole name brings tears even after all these years. In fact, he did not die on that November morning; since he lives in us, in our minds, all over our Republic . . . The fact that life stops at 9:05 am for a minute on every November 10th in Türkiye, a rare experience for anyone outside our country, is an indication of what Atatürk means to us, as well the as the unique characteristic of our nation that shows loyalty and kindness to the founder of our Republic.

The traditional Koç Group tribute to Atatürk this year was all about hope . . . Hope has been the full focus of our sentiment this year, which after a 2-year bout with a deadly infectious disease, is finally brought back to our normal lives once again.

As we have now entered the centennial year of our Republic, while experiencing the sadness and emptiness of Atatürk’s departure at such an early age and commemorating him on this anniversary, we are forever thankful for the clear direction he has pointed for us, which at Koç University we are to forever follow with unrelenting determination.

The driving force and the inspiration behind the founding vision of Vehbi Koç, who established this great institution with great sacrifice by overcoming all kinds of obstacles, is surely the courage and foresight and the unmatched vision of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who laid the foundations of our Republic in a time where our country was reborn out of the ashes of a collapsed empire.

The strength of our Republic and the vision of Atatürk is to be kept at the forefront through every generation of Koç University students, faculty, and staff. As we celebrate the centennial year of our Republic and our rich past, we continue to strive for excellence in education, scientific research, and exemplary citizenship while we advance forward in the light of the principles and reforms set forth by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

We shall indeed celebrate the 100th Year of our Republic with Koç University !

And we shall plant the first seeds of this celebration via the emblem in the banner of this newsletter, in all our communication channels.

Now we look forward to a very busy and festive month of December, where we may finally be able to enjoy many of the year-end activities, of which we have been deprived since the start of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.