Meet the Team: Dr. Betül Kaçar

This month we feature Dr. Betül Kaçar, a BMSIS research scientist and postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech.

BMSIS: Please tell us a little about yourself

Betül:I am a very curious person who wants to understand how nature works. I want to understand how history shaped the biological world that surrounds us: how and why is life the way it is now? I attempt to answer these questions in the laboratory, with the tools drawn from evolutionary, synthetic and molecular biology. Most of us tend to think of evolution as a process that happened in the past. This is not completely true, however; evolution is an on-going process, it is happening right now and it will continue to do so in the future. Specifically for my case, evolution is happening in the laboratory in front of my eyes. I am monitoring the adaptation of resurrected proteins into the current conditions of life, to understand whether you can roll the evolution dice twice (at least in a laboratory setting) to see whether you get a different or similar outcome. These questions are not only helpful from a basic science point of view, but also are very specifically related to humans and our daily lives. For instance, understanding the pathways of bacteria towards antibiotic resistance is a major challenge; our ability to understand underlying rules of adaptation would be one way to control, and perhaps even predict such resistance.

I obtained my bachelors degree in Chemistry in Istanbul, Turkey; hold a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and am now completing my post-doctoral studies in Evolutionary and Synthetic Biology at Georgia Tech in the laboratory of Eric Gaucher, as a part of the Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution, with the support of NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Program and the NASA Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program.

BMSIS: What motivated you to join the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science?

Betül: Are you asking me why I would like to be exposed to a diversity of thoughts and perspectives? Why would I like to have the opportunity to communicate my science with a broader audience composed of brilliant, curious and ambitious young scientists? Or what would be the benefit of having an open-minded organization behind me that sponsors and supports various national and international outreach activities that I am involved with? Okay, I think I answered this one.