I am an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and a faculty fellow at the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. My research group AstroMusers aims to address some of our most fundamental questions about the cosmos: how do planets form and potentially support life and what is the particle nature of dark matter?
To address our knowledge gaps in planet formation and habitability, I discover and characterize exoplanets toward an improved understanding of planet evolution, migration, and demographics. I have worked as a group vetting lead of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), identifying the TESS Objects of Interest (TOIs) that constitute a legacy catalog of exoplanet candidates likely to be transiting nearby stars and amenable to detailed characterization by JWST in the decades to come.
To advance our prospects of revealing the particle nature of dark matter, I search for high-energy astrophysical signatures of dark matter, such as those accessible to the Fermi-LAT and study its structure using strong gravitational lenses, including those observed by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and those that will be observed by the Roman Space Telescope and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) at the Rubin Observatory.
In order to make progress on these scientific investigations, I build inference pipelines using Bayesian statistics, machine learning, and high-performance computing, analyzing and modeling various space- and ground-based astronomical data.
If you are a prospective student or postdoctoral researcher, feel free to reach out regarding research opportunities in AstroMusers.
I joined the physics faculty at Washington University in August 2023. I was a postdoctoral Catalyst Fellow in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University between June 2022 and July 2023. Before that, I worked as a TESS postdoctoral associate (2021-2022) and a Kavli Fellow (2018-2021) in the Department of Physics and Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before my postdocs, I was a Ph.D. student at the Department of Physics at Harvard University between 2013 and 2018, working at the Center for Astrophysics on constructing statistical methods to search for signatures of dark matter with my Ph.D. advisor Douglas P. Finkbeiner. Accordingly, I lived in Boston between 2013 and 2021, in New York City between 2021 and 2023, and in St. Louis since then.
I completed my undergraduate studies at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. I graduated from METU with a double major in electrical and electronics engineering and physics in 2012 and 2013, respectively. As an undergraduate, I was affiliated with CERN between 2011 and 2013, worked on the AMS-02 experiment on the International Space Station, and occasionally traveled to Geneva for research. Before that, I graduated from Robert College in 2008. Going further back, I was one curious child growing up in the beautiful city of Istanbul with a few extended stays in Amsterdam while spending my summers mostly on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor.
Yet before that, I was a collection of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and other heavier elements spread throughout the molecular cloud in the pre-Solar neighborhood that eventually ignited our Sun and formed our planet Earth. Overall, I am a self-conscious and inquiring ingredient of our Universe, pondering its constituents, origin, evolution, and elegant symmetries.
I have a deep interest in world history. As a child, walking within the ruins of various ancient cities in Asia Minor has fascinated me and thus strongly shaped how I view our place in the Universe. I also have a strong attitude towards all pseudosciences and the cognitive biases they exploit to influence the worldviews and decisions of the members of our society.