Welcome

I am a Catalyst Fellow in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University working on planets beyond our Solar System, dark matter, and astrostatistics. My research on exoplanets involves their discovery and characterization towards an improved understanding of planet formation, evolution, and migration. In cosmology, I focus on the high-energy astrophysical signatures of dark matter and its small-scale characterization based on gravitational lensing. I use various space and ground-based astronomical data sets such as NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), Hubble Space Telescope (HST), JWST, and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) to build novel inference pipelines utilizing Bayesian statistics, machine learning, and high-performance computing.

 

I am a group vetting lead of TESS and work on various aspects of the analysis of TESS data. The resulting TESS Objects of Interest (TOIs) constitute a legacy catalog of exoplanet candidates likely to be transiting nearby stars and amenable to detailed characterization in the decades to come.

In Fall 2023, I will be joining the Department of Physics and the McDonnell Center for Space Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis as an assistant professor of physics. If you are a prospective student or postdoctoral researcher, feel free to reach out regarding research opportunities.

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About Me

Before my current appointment as a Catalyst Fellow at Princeton University, I was a TESS postdoctoral associate in the Department of Physics and Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a visiting appointment at the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University between 2021 and 2022. I was a postdoctoral Kavli Fellow at MIT between 2018 and 2021, and before my postdoc, I was a PhD 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 and in New York City 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 on 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 absolutely 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. 

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