Burçin Mutlu Pakdil, a 2009 graduate of the Department of Physics and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona, has been selected as a TED Fellow. She will deliver a talk on the TED stage in Vancouver this April, as a member of the 2018 class of 20 “young innovators” from four continents.
An astrophysicist, Dr. Mutlu Pakdil studies the structure and dynamic of galaxies – including a rare double-ringed elliptical galaxy she recently discovered
– to help understand how they form and evolve.
Her research covers some of the most peculiar objects in the universe: nearby dwarf galaxies, galactic rings, and peculiar ringed galaxies, supermassive black holes and intermediate-mass black holes. Her work in discovering the double- ringed elliptical galaxy provided the first description of such a galaxy, and received extensive media coverage in the US and abroad.
After graduating from Bilkent, she obtained a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Minnesota and joined the Department of Astronomy and the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona as a postdoctoral research associate.
As a female immigrant astronomer and a member of the first generation in her family to attend college, Dr. Mutlu Pakdil says that she has long been committed to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education. “I grew up listening to my father’s stories about how he was successful in elementary school.Unfortunately, he dropped out of school after the fifth grade to take care of his parents. My father’s experience motivated me to do whatever it takes to live out my dreams,” she said.
Founded in 2009, the Ted Fellows program “brings together young innovators from around the world and across disciplines, who display both outstanding achievement and exemplar y character, to raise international awareness of their work and maximize their impact.” The program has to date 453 fellows from 96 countries, whose talks have collectively been viewed more than 178 million times online.