Erdal Arikan is an electrical and electronics engineer specialized in communication technology. He gained his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Arikan came to international notice with his groundbreaking invention named “polar codes”, a coding theory seen as enabling the cutting-edge 5G technology in communication. Mobile phone and communication giant Huawei presents Professor Arikan as the “father of polar codes” and awarded him for his research. Among the many awards Professor Arikan received were also the 2018 IEEE Hamming Medal and the 2019 Shannon Lecturer Award.
Feryal Ozel a distinguished astrophysicist specialized in neutron stars and black holes. Prof. Ozel is among the few people included in the Big Ideas list along with Albert Einstein and John Nash. She worked in CERN and led a team in NASA. Prof. Ozel was the first Turk to be a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow. She has also taken part in many advisory committees for NASA and the National Science Foundation, including the NASA Astrophysics 30-year Roadmap.
Baris Manco is a legendary Turkish singer, songwriter and TV presenter. His songs have been translated into Greek, Bulgarian, Arabic, Persian, Japanese, Hebrew, English and Dutch. Manco was a man of multiculturalism. He embraced all people from different cultures, religions, ethnicities and races. His universal approach knew no boundaries. In one of his hits, he asked: “Where are you from, my friend?” The answer was: “The whole world is where I am from.” Baris Manco worked hard to carry out a synthesis of the east and the west. He even named his children Dogukan and Batikan, literally meaning “Easterner” and “Westerner”.
Canan Dagdeviren is a young scientist famous for developing a heart battery that harvests energy from the motion of the heart and thus prevents risky surgeries to replace dead batteries with new ones, and a tattoo-like wearable device that can diagnose skin cancer. In 2015, Forbes included Professor Dagdeviren in the “30 Under 30” list that names 30 young successful scientists every year. She was also included in the “35 Innovators Under 35” list of MIT Technology Review. Professor Dagdeviren was elected as a Junior Fellow to the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, becoming the first Turkish scientist to be accepted to the Society. Among the many awards she received was the Illinois Innovation Prize.
Ever heard of the Arf invariant? If you’re not interested in advanced mathematics, you probably have not. The Arf invariant, a complex mathematical formula, was named after the internationally recognized mathematician Cahit Arf – just as were Arf semigroups, Arf rings, Arf closures and the Hasse-Arf theorem. Cahit Arf is a mathematical genius who contributed to the science of mathematics vastly. In 1932, he earned his master’s degree from École Normale Supérieure in France. He then completed his PhD in the University of Göttingen in Germany in 1938 in just one year, having Helmut Hasse as his doctoral advisor with whom he developed the Hasse-Arf theorem. Professor Arf has so extraordinary a place in mathematics that his surname has become a mathematical symbol used in equations and formulas.
Oktay Sinanoglu is a distinguished scientist who taught chemistry at Yale University for 37 years. He graduated from University of California, Berkeley with highest honors in 1956. In 1957, he earned his master’s degree from MIT within only one year and was awarded Sloan Research Fellowship. Professor Sinanoglu became the youngest full professor in Yale in the 20th century when he was just 28. In the entire history of Yale, there were only two people who had become full professor younger than he had. He also became the founder of the theoretical chemistry division at Yale. A two-time nominee for Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Professor Sinanoglu received innumerable awards, including the “Alexander von Humboldt Research Award” and the “International Outstanding Scientist Award of Japan”. He passed away on 19 April 2015.
Bilge Demirkoz is an expert scientist and an eminent academic teaching in the department of physics. As an undergraduate student in MIT, she received the “Orloff Service Award” for her contributions to physics. Professor Demirkoz was accepted by Harvard, Caltech and Stanford universities for nuclear and particle physics PhD programs but she preferred to continue her studies in MIT. Professor Demirkoz worked at NASA and CERN, and currently coordinates the first collaboration between Turkey and CERN. Professor Demirkoz was one of the women featured in an article on the experiences of women in science published in Science Magazine in 2018.
Neslihan Demir Guler, formerly known as Neslihan Darnel, is a high-ranking, world-renowned female volleyball player. She is one of the 33 preeminent players selected as “FIVB Heroes” by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). She has won a large number of awards both in Turkey and internationally, including world championships and gold medals. But most notably, Neslihan Demir Guler is the only athlete who was awarded “Best Scorer” in two world championships (2006 and 2010) in a row. Among the other titles she was awarded were “Most Valuable Player”, “Best Server” and “Best Spiker”.
Guler Sabanci is a prominent Turkish businesswoman who leads one of the largest industrial and financial conglomerates in Turkey, Sabanci Group. Her success has been recognized by many prestigious media institutions such as the Financial Times, Forbes and Fortune. She ranked 8 on the “Europe’s Top 25 Businesswomen” list of the Financial Times in 2005 and 2 on the “FT Top 50 Woman in World Business” list of the same news outlet in 2011. The same year she became one of the five most influential women around the world chosen by the Financial Times editors. In 2008, she ranked 9 in the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list. In 2009, Forbes ranked her as 27th on “The 100 Most Powerful Women” list.
Semih Sayginer is a professional world champion Turkish pool player. He holds nine world championships besides various other international and national rankings. Sayginer has 42 specific shooting techniques in the billiard literature called by his name. His outstanding success brought him the nicknames “Mr. Magic” and “The Turkish Prince.”
Orhan Pamuk is a world-famous novelist. He has written novels for 44 years and not had any other occupation since then. Snow, one of his novels, was selected as one of the best 10 novels in the US in 2004. Besides the 30 awards he won, Pamuk was elected a Nobel Prize laureate in literature in 2006. His books were translated into 60 languages and published in more than 100 countries.
Naim Suleymanoglu was a Turkish-Bulgarian weightlifter who escaped from the oppression of Turks in Bulgaria to Turkey. He was seen as a living legend both in Turkey and in the international sports community with respect to the innumerable records he broke. He was only 15 years old when he broke his first world record in weightlifting. He broke a sum total of 46 world records and won eight world championships. Since he was a vertically challenged man with unbeatable strength, he was called the “Pocket Hercules” and the “Turkish Superman.” Sports authorities considered Naim Suleymanoglu the best weightlifter ever. The “Pocket Hercules” passed away on 18 November 2017.
Semih Kaplanoglu is an award winning, internationally recognized Turkish film director, screenwriter and producer. He has won the Golden Bear Award in the 60th annual Berlin International Film Festival in 2010. Kaplanoglu was a jury member in the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. He has received 28 international awards and 10 nominations.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan is an awarded Turkish film director, photographer, screenwriter and actor. He won the Palme d'Or, the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2014 for his movie Winter Sleep. His latest film "The Wild Pear Tree" received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018.
Fazil Say is a famous Turkish piano virtuoso, especially with his interpretations of Bach and Gershwin. Most of the authorities in classical music find Say’s interpretations of the classical pieces terrific even though some believe that he denaturalizes the compositions. He currently holds the Beethoven Prize given by Beethoven Academy in 2016.
Lefter Kucukandoyadis is a legendary Turkish-Greek football player. Kucukandonyadis was the son of a fisherman from the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey. He played both in amateur and professional football leagues between 1942 and 1969 and beat a hard-to-reach record by scoring over 400 goals in a Fenerbahce shirt which he wore for 17 years and scored 832 goals in total. He was known as “Professor Ordinarius” because of his mastery of football skills, his plays and his goals.
Yasemin Dalkilic is a Turkish female nine-time Freediving World Champion. She has an exclusive place among freediving athletes around the world, holding three world records. Dalkilic is featured in the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
Vecihi Hurkus is among the top figures of Turkish aviation history. He built the first Turkish plane VECIHI K-VI in 1924. He made history by flying with this airplane in 1925. In 1930, Hurkus built the first Turkish civil aircraft VECIHI XIV within three months. In 1954 he established Hurkus Airlines, bought eight retired planes from Turkish Airlines and set them to work. However, his company was ultimately shut because his planes were constantly sabotaged and hijacked.
One of the few last Ottomans, Halil Inalcık is a world-renowned scholar. His expertise on Ottoman history was so extraordinary that he came to be known as the “pole of historians” – in the metaphorical sense – in that intellectual compasses of historians all around the world pointed to him. Professor Inalcık taught at the University of Chicago for years besides many other institutions with an incessant productivity. He published two new books towards the end of his 100-year lifetime and four others were ready for publishing.
Haji Bektash Veli is a religious folk leader born at the end of the 13th century. He had great socio-political influences not only in the Ottoman Empire but also in modern Turkey. He shaped Alevi-Bektashism as it is known in Turkey. His teachings were adopted in many regions from the Balkans, throughout Anatolia and to Azerbaijan. Haji Bektash Veli has a profile that unites Alevis and Sunnis in Turkey.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, also known as Mevlana (Turkish for “our master”), was one of the greatest Sufi Muslims in history. His teaching was based on devotion to Islam and encouraged people from all walks of life to turn to God. Rumi is famous for his religious book of poems called Mathnawi. He is so important and influential a figure that great German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel discusses Rumi in his book Philosophy of Mind. His verses had a deep impact on a myriad of scholars, and are still discussed and studied internationally today.
Mehmet Oz is a renowned US-based Turkish-American doctor and TV personality. He is also Vice Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University.
Doctor Oz has won many awards. His TV show has been awarded the Emmy nine times. Forbes magazine ranked him third on its list of most influential celebrities in 2011 and he was also awarded by a variety of magazines.
Hidayet Turkoglu is a Turkish-Bosnian veteran basketball player who played in the NBA for years. At the end of the 1999-2000 season, he transferred from Efes Pilsen to the Sacramento Kings. After playing for a year for the San Antonio Spurs, he played for Orlando Magic from 2004 until 2009. In 2008 he won the Most Improved Player (MIP) award with an average of 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5 assists. In 2009 his team reached the NBA finals.
Semih Sayginer is a professional world champion Turkish pool player. He holds nine world championship besides various other international and national rankings. Sayginer has 42 specific shooting techniques in the billiard literature called by his name. His success brought him the nicknames “Mr. Magic” and “The Turkish Prince.”