Spring finally decided to knock on our doors, with nature blooming all
around . . . Even though we had a relatively mild winter, cold weather seemed to have lingered well into March. One tends to think that we all need to get used to the capricious nature of seasons from now on . . .

This spring air hopefully brings with it new hopes for our beautiful Türkiye that could really use some right now. A catastrophic and fateful February had many of us almost paralyzed by the immense destruction. As we are still quite shaken and reeling from the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that hit southwestern Türkiye, we have been moving towards a slow recovery as a nation with the knowledge that we shall certainly prevail, once again.

All our thoughts continue to be with the millions of affected people in the region, including those who are among our own Koç University Community. There are countless human stories; stories of rescue from our KUAK team, stories from our medical faculty members who were on the ground within a few days, stories of survival from our very own community. These stories, coming from miles away, hit very close to home.

We were one of the first universities to be on the field with our medical staff and rescue team, and they brought back with them many sad stories of loss along with hopeful ones, of reaching and helping those who were able to survive. However, their existence and support also helped those remaining family members find solace amidst a horrible experience.

Our work as the Koç University community starts now, as this healing of the wounds and rebuilding is to be a long journey for many of us. Following the aftermath and shock of the February 6 earthquakes, our colleges and many of our departments started to work towards rebuilding, improving, progress, recovery and much more to help heal our nation. As a nation, we cannot allow to lose generations, so our work is immediate and urgent. What we do now for recovery is also destined to determine the future of our country.

Multidisciplinary scientific work after a devastation such as these earthquakes is key and essential; the collaborative work of universities cannot be more important than ever . . . Multiple disciplines are required to be involved such as engineering, architecture, sociology, psychology, economics, public health, and environmental science. Each discipline brings its unique perspective and expertise to the research effort, and their collective findings can help guide policy decisions, aid relief efforts, and inform future preparedness measures. With this in mind, we have compiled a slew of current projects from many groups at our university as we not only need to literally build homes for survivors but also build their strength, help them regain their motivation, energy to resume and in some cases start all over again.

This month fortunately also came with positive news on multiple research fronts both at international and national levels.

Three of our faculty members from across Koç University were once again recognized with and supported by Europe's most prestigious funds. The European Commission has awarded ~1 M € funding to a new Horizon Europe project in which Koç University is a partner. Asst. Prof. Aslı E. Mert, Sociology is a part of the Twinning Research and Innovation Institutions to Design and Implement Inclusive GEPs (NEXUS) project which aims to co-design, implement, monitor and evaluate innovative and targeted actions at bridging inclusivity gaps in nine research organizations and their respective R&I ecosystems to bolster institutional change through the development of inclusive Gender Equality Plans (GEPs) in intersectional and intersectoral directions.

Moreover, two of our faculty members have been awarded distinguished research grants from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. Prof. Demircan Canadinç, Mechanical Engineering, received the highly prestigious Humboldt Research Award for his excellent research on the mechanical properties of metallic materials and their microstructural causes. The Humboldt Research Awards are given to internationally renowned scientists and scholars who work outside of Germany in recognition of their lifetime research achievements. Assistant Prof. Dr. C. Ceyhun Arsla, Comparative Literature, received the Georg Forster Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers for his work analyzing literary studies, aiming to overcome the established geopolitical and cultural boundaries of the 19th century. These Research fellowships are given to exceptional researchers from developing or transitional countries who have established a clearly defined research profile with their high-impact international publications and whose research contributes to the development of their country or region of origin.

On the national front, Koç University maintained its leading position with the largest number of BAGEP Awards (Science Academy Young Scientist Awards Program) received in the last 10 years since the inception of this program, with Assoc. Prof. Aykut Coşkun, Media and Visual Arts, Assoc. Prof. Erkan Kalafat, Gynecology and Obstetrics, SOM, Assoc. Prof. Tuba Mutluer, Psychiatry receiving this year's awards.

In another exciting news, Prof. Ziya Öniş of International Relations received the “Kadir Has University Outstanding Achievement Award - in the field of Sustainable Development in a Global Context” for his original and ground-breaking work on the developmental state and global political economy, the political economy of development, the interface of globalization and democracy, comparative political economy of emerging powers, Turkish politics and European politics, as well as for his role and contributions as a teacher and educator.

The exceptional achievements of our academic faculty make an enduring positive impact on our community while underlining our academic excellence. Congratulations to all of our awardees . . .

As we are now well into our second semester, we surely look forward to having our community fully on our campus for the remainder of April, May and June.