Canan Dagdeviren has been living in the US for 9 years already, working on the projects aimed to understand the nature of a human body. Now she holds the office as the director of the Conformable Decoders research group at MIT Media Lab, engaged with deep-brain study.

From Bachelor To Master

Dagdeviren received her Bachelor’s Degree in Physics Enginnering at Hacettepe Üniversitesi in 2007 and then continued her education under Master’s Degree Material Science and Engineering both in her motherland – Turkey. By the end of her Master in 2009 she was awarded with a Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship, the first doctoral studies grant ever in Turkey.

…And Further

So she came to Illinois, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she stayed for 6 years to acquire Ph.D. Field Of Study Material Sci. and Engineering. From her LinkedIn account we see a plenty of scientific achievements, including MIT Technology Review Award for Innovators under 35 in 2014, was named as the Innovator of the Year among the first generation of MIT TR Innovators under 35, received Turkish American Scientists & Scholars Association (TASSA) Young Scholar Award and some more.

Pacemaker Project: Childhood Dream Come True

When she came to the US, her first project was dedicated to the pacemaker, which harvests energy not from a battery, but from the natural rhythms of the body. Dagdeviren believes it is the most important project in her carrier so far: «It was a boost for me, and made me realize my own capability. I saw that a dream can come true with enough time and materials…You can actually make something that was originally your dream. You can touch it, you can feel it, you can place it on animals and see how it performs». This probably dates back to her childhood. When she was six, she got to hear that her grandfather died of heart failure in his 28. They even did not happen to meet each other. Then she decided she would help heart patients in one way or another when she grew up.

International Scientific Cooperation

Now, being the director of the Conformable Decoders research group at MIT Media Lab, she supervises the projects aimed to understand the nature of a human body. «With our devices – conformable ones – we’re translating biological language into electric language», – she says. Dagdeviren is helping diverse researchers cooperate with each other efficiently. There are masters, PhD students, postdocs in various fields such as material science, engineering, design, architecture. Such a diversity enriches the output of their co-work. They listen to the patterns of a human body and convert these impulses, such as hearts beating or lungs expanding, to implanted health devices. For that reason this sophisticated technology tends to be perfectly-constructed.

Dagdeviren started to work for an international team at the University of Illinois. PhD candidates came from all over the world: India, Turkey, Germany, and surely America. Such cooperation is «simply fantastic…like you couldn’t even dream of [doing] alone». This is why Dagdeviren likes the US and feels at home with her stay there and interdisciplinary work.

Nevertheless now she feels a significant shift away from this cooperative spirit. She sincerely states: «If you feel like you’re not welcome here, it’s not good». There are some colleagues who want to enter the US with valid documentation, but are not able to. Is that really important how to name a person – an immigrant or not – if he does science for all individuals despite their status?

At this very moment Dagdeviren is engaged with more initiative work on deep-brain study. She is trying to figure out how conformable devices (such as the mentioned pacemaker) can scale the depths of the brain, with the use of minimally invasive methods to inject drugs on-demand.

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