Bilkent Graduates Honored by President Obama as Outstanding Early-Career Scientists

Bilkent graduates Aydoğan Özcan (EE/'00) and Hatice Altuğ (PHYS/'00) are among the recipients of this year's Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Aydoğan Özcan is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at UCLA, and Hatice Altuğ is an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Boston University.

On September 26, US President Barack Obama named 94 researchers as recipients of the 2011 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

Aydoğan Özcan received his PhD degree from the Stanford University Department of Electrical Engineering in 2005. After a short postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, he was appointed a research faculty member at the Harvard Medical School, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, in 2006. Dr. Özcan joined UCLA in the summer of 2007 as an assistant professor. There, he is currently leading the Bio- and Nano-Photonics Laboratory in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Dr. Özcan has received several major awards, including the 2011 SPIE Early Career Achievement Award, the 2010 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the 2009 NIH Director's New Innovator Award, the 2009 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the 2009 IEEE Photonics Society (LEOS) Young Investigator Award and the MIT Technology Review's TR35 Award for his seminal contributions to near-field and on-chip imaging, and telemedicine-based diagnostics. He also holds 17 patents and has 12 pending patent applications for his inventions in nanoscopy, wide-field imaging, lensless imaging, nonlinear optics, fiber optics and optical coherence tomography.

Hatice Altuğ received her PhD degree in applied physics from Stanford University in 2007. At Boston University, she leads the Laboratory of Integrated Nanophotonics and Biosensing Systems in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Presidential Early Careers Award recognized her for advancing the frontiers of proteomics to enable the discovery of protein bio-markers for detection of disease, drugs and environmental monitoring, and for innovative educational and outreach activities that have helped students at all levels.

Dr. Altuğ's research focuses on integrated nanophotonics, nanoplasmonics and nanofluidic systems and their application in biosensing, vibrational nanospectroscopy and optical communication. Her work has been featured as a cover article in the journals Nature Physics and Applied Physics Letters and also highlighted by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Altuğ is the recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center New Investigator Award and the IEEE Photonics Society 2011 Young Investigator Award. She has also received the Peter Paul Career Professorship, the Intel Graduate Student Fellowship and the IEEE Photonics Society Graduate Student Fellowship.