Moving to a new country to learn an unfamiliar language and pursue graduate-level education can be very intimidating, but a year after first arriving in Philadelphia, Aylin Aydogdu is as familiar with her surroundings as a native resident.
“Oh, I’m used to it now,” Aydogdu says, smiling. “I know may way around the city pretty well.”
Last September, Aydogdu came to the United States from Turkey on a government-issued scholarship to pursue a master’s degree. While seeking out graduate education programs in the Philadelphia area, she took English as a Second Language courses at the University of Pennsylvania. The whole experience was a bit overwhelming, she admits.
“I was nervous. It wasn’t my first time abroad, but it was my first time in the United States and it was challenging because it’s far from home and it takes some time to get used to a new area, find a home, and meet new friends,” says Aydogdu, who now lives in Philadelphia with two roommates.
Once she got her bearings, Aydogdu set out to achieve a goal she had since she arrived: earn a Rutgers University degree.
“I’ll admit that I was kind of obsessed over Rutgers,” Aydogdu laughs. “I wanted to be here. It’s as great a university as you can find in the U.S., and that was always my goal — to get an education from a top research university.”
Aydogdu earned her bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from Ankara University in Turkey. Upon hearing about Rutgers–Camden’s Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, she became interested in the multi-disciplinary field and connected with program director Benedetto Piccoli.
“Dr. Piccoli replied to me right away,” Aydogdu says. “From the very beginning, everyone in Camden has been so nice and very helpful in welcoming me here. I got so much positive feedback and information about computational biology and knew it would be a good fit for me.”
At Rutgers–Camden, Aydogdu will be performing research based in population genetics, which describes how the frequency of alternative forms of a gene changes over time.
“Computational biology is very different than my background in veterinary medicine, but it combines my interest in biological systems and animals with math, which is what I’ve always been interested in,” she says. “I was so impressed with the amount of research that is done at a small university and I’m excited to get started.”
Upon completion of her master’s degree, Aydogdu will return to Turkey to work in an agricultural department as part of the scholarship she received. After that, she’s unsure of what path she’ll take.
“I haven’t thought too far ahead, but it is an exciting time for me,” she says. “My family came to visit at the end of May and they really like it here. They’re happy because I’m happy and they’ve been very supportive. That’s all I want right now.”
And of course, to earn that long-desired Rutgers degree.