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Karsu Ipek Kilic

PhD candidate, Mechanical Engineering
Story originally published on Jun 2021
I’m from a very small city in Turkey where my parents were physics professors at its only university.

I grew up in campus housing, going to their labs and offices, watching them study at home to give their lectures the next day. The university environment seemed more open, like they had more freedom to do the work that really mattered to them.

I’m doing research into materials science using a computational approach. It centers on controlling the molecular architecture of glass, which then allows you to manipulate the physical and mechanical properties in line with the needs in several device applications. It’s really pure luck I got into this research area. My advisor helped me get into my research area. I had to learn some new computational techniques from scratch. It was worth it – it helps me with my favorite part of doing research: processing and explaining my findings where I reveal a story that connects the dots.

Being at Stanford is an amazing opportunity; engineering isn’t the only star in my sky and here I get to explore other things I care about too. Even when I was a child, I loved the arts – drawing, singing, writing and playing music. I’m actually planning on taking a drawing course for non-majors next fall and I’ve taken a vocal class here. I can improve myself in any way I choose because of all these resources around me. Along the way, I’ve met so many interesting people from other backgrounds. Engineering is my main priority but I’m really happy I have all these other things in my life as well. Being well rounded is important.

I’m in my fifth year and I’m still deciding what I want to do after my PhD. There are industry job opportunities here in the U.S. or in Europe that sound interesting. I’m excited to explore a bit more and choose what’s next for me.

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