Concordia PhD student shines a light on equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM

Imge Ozugergin believes it’s never too early to start thinking about a career in the sciences
March 10, 2022
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Imge Ozugergin: “The more diversity we have, the better.”

How can we get more young people from diverse backgrounds interested in a career in science? One Concordia PhD student is on a mission to find out.

Imge Ozugergin (MSc 19) is currently pursuing her doctorate in biology, studying cytokinesis regulation under the supervision of Alisa Piekny, professor of biology in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Ozugergin wants to explore how to encourage a broader group of people to choose a similar path to hers.

“The more diversity we have, the better, and that’s the summary of what I’ve found, both in my research and my extracurricular life,” she says.

Ozugergin is an active member of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), an international group that holds large annual conferences, examining science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other issues that relate to these fields. Ozugergin recently participated in a panel discussion at the ASCB annual conference.

“I thought, oh, wow, these are people I can talk to; I can work with these people,” recalls Ozugergin, who was also recently profiled in the Journal of Cell Science.

“The more I do outside of the lab for science, the more it makes me want to do science. It’s a positive feedback loop.”

Ozugergin is now chairing a subcommittee on communication. “One of the things that we want to discuss, for example, is how being an international student can affect your decision to join a certain lab in a certain country.”

‘Kids are naturally curious’

Ozugergin is of Turkish descent and was born in London, United Kingdom. Her father is a diplomat, so she frequently moved as a child, informing her diverse global perspective.

She credits her mother as a guiding influence when it comes to science. “She’s an aeronautical engineer. If my parents had no interest in science, I’m not sure where I would be.”

Ozugergin believes that when it comes to getting more women interested in pursuing STEM careers, timing is everything. “One of the issues is that we’re starting too late,” she says.

That’s why she has spent time working with young students, teaching them basic experiments and scientific concepts. “If we start in elementary school and target girls positively, then they will have an interest. Kids are naturally curious.”

As she works toward completing her PhD, Ozugergin continues her community involvement through the Concordia Biology Graduate Student Association in addition to her other volunteer roles. She is keen to bring graduate students at Concordia into closer contact.

She adds, “I’m learning how to multitask!”


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