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Published: 2023-03-20

Get to know Kemal Avican – New UCMR PI

NEWS Kemal Avican researches the adaptation mechanisms of bacteria to find new strategies to fight infections. He uses a systems biology approach and advanced analytical methods that include network modeling and artificial intelligence.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

asking questions is an essential part of research and it is always okay to seek help or advice when needed

Why did you want to join UCMR? What are your expectations?

”I wanted to join UCMR because I place a high value on collaborations and scientific events, and I know that UCMR is an excellent place to engage in these activities. UCMR has a strong reputation for organizing high-quality scientific events and fostering collaborations among researchers. Being part of such a community would give me the opportunity to connect with researchers from different disciplines and gain exposure to new ideas and perspectives.”

“As a UCMR PI, I anticipate that the UCMR research environment will offer my laboratory members significant opportunities to exchange knowledge and acquire novel skills, ultimately fostering their capacity for expansive and innovative thinking.”

What is your research about?

“My research is focused on understanding the stress responses of diverse human bacterial pathogens under harsh host conditions. I believe that this work will provide a basis for developing novel strategies to combat difficult-to-treat bacterial infections.”

What was it that made you choose to study and work in this subject?

”What motivated me to pursue my studies and work in this subject was the challenge of understanding bacterial adaptation strategies in a mouse model, using a single bacterial pathogen. At the time, the field was still in its nascent stages, and as a result, I encountered novel findings that demanded deeper comprehension. I thus sought to broaden my perspective by studying a wider range of bacterial pathogens.”

“This approach excites me as it allows me to examine diverse pathogens and their associated strategies, develop counterstrategies to combat infections, and gain more in-depth knowledge of the field. The complexity of the subject has required me to develop a high level of expertise, and to facilitate this, I have sought out multidisciplinary collaborations. These collaborations have been not only enjoyable but also instrumental in generating a wider range of innovative ideas.”

What is it like to do research at Umeå University?

”Doing research at Umeå University is an exceptional experience because of the open-minded research environment that fosters collaboration and idea-sharing among researchers. The campus design is also noteworthy, as it provides easy access to research facilities that are in close proximity to one another. Additionally, I would like to highlight the Umeå Postdoc Society, which has made remarkable contributions to the research atmosphere. This society has been instrumental in creating a sense of community and promoting connections among researchers from different departments through both social and scientific activities, as well as guidance for career development opportunities.”

What is your best advice to younger researchers?

”As a young scientist myself, my best advice to younger researchers would be to trust and believe in your own ideas. While hard work is essential to pursuing a research career, it is equally important to set aside time for creative and critical thinking. Don't be afraid to challenge existing concepts. Additionally, asking questions is an essential part of research and it is always okay to seek help or advice when needed. Ultimately, my advice would be to be curious, stay dedicated, and persevere through challenges, because that is what will enable you to succeed in the long run.”

What do you like to do when you do not work?

“I work. Kidding! I enjoy spending time with my daughter. Another passtime of mine is watching football, and I try hard not to miss Fenerbahce's matches. Additionally, I enjoy working on carpentry projects in my garage, which helps me relax and exercise my creativity in a different way.”

Short facts about Kemal Avican

Comes from: Nusaybin in Turkey
Me in three words: Lost in detail
Interests: Biology, microbes, football, visual arts, music, fishing
Reading: ’Cevdet Bey and His Sons’ by Orhan Pamuk
Watching: Fenerbahce’s matches
Listening to: Sezen Aksu
Unknown talent: Good at carpentry
Wanted to become when I was a child: Architect
Best holiday spot: Izmir in Turkey
If I had a time machine: I would travel far enough into the future when technology has advanced to the point where humans can livestream from inside a cell.
Enjoys with Umeå: The long summer days