The Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award recognizes a junior faculty member for high-quality research and significant positive impact on diversity. This year’s winner, Dr. Aysegul Gunduz, was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1981 and was the overall winner in the European Council of International Schools Mathematics Olympics in 1997. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey) in 2001.
Aysegul’s undergraduate advisor was a female professor, Dr. Aydan Erkmen, who convinced her to pursue graduate studies in the U.S., emphasizing the importance of female engineers with doctoral degrees. Aysegul attributes her success to having Dr. Erkmen as a role model and mentor at an early stage of her career.
Aysegul received her master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University and University of Florida in 2003 and 2008, respectively. During her doctoral studies, she started working with neurosurgical patient populations to develop neuroprosthetic systems that could be controlled by brain signals for amputees and for patients with locked-in syndrome. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Albany Medical College’s Department of Neurology between 2009 and 2011, where she worked with epilepsy patients.
She joined the Biomedical Engineering department at the University of Florida (UF) as an Assistant Professor in 2012. Aysegul and her team study precursors to behavior and aftereffects of stimulation in the human brain using electrophysiology and bioimaging. She aims to translate this knowledge into clinical diagnostic and therapeutic systems to improve the quality of life of those suffering from neurological disorders. Her team works with neurosurgical patients with epilepsy and movement disorders, as well as stroke patients undergoing neurorehabilitation.
For her work, Aysegul received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Award in 2016, the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering Early Career Award in 2015, and the UF Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute NIH K12 Scholarship in 2015. She is the Academic Advisor for the UF IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society.
Aysegul is committed to promoting the success of female engineers and faculty. She has served in the Executive Board of UF Association of Academic Women (AAW) since 2013 and is President Elect for 2016-17. AAW strives to provide equal opportunities for tenure, promotion, and advancement to leadership opportunities to female faculty and staff.
Aysegul is passionate about creating a fair and inclusive environment to encourage female students to pursue academic careers. As part of her NSF CAREER proposal, she established the AAW Emerging STEM Scholar Award in 2016. This award aims to promote the career of a young woman in the final year of her doctoral studies. In 2016, she joined the University Minority Mentorship Program as a mentor, and is currently mentoring a female freshman engineer who is the first in her family to attend college.
Aysegul has given numerous talks at the Society for Women in Engineering for incoming freshmen female engineering students, and was invited to the Women’s Leadership Conference Panel by the UF Women’s Student Association. She also leads BME outreach events at the UF Annual Engineering Fair for K-12 students, at which she introduces engineering to female students.