Prof. Dr. Zehra Sayers

Dr. Sayers holds a BSc in Physics, from Bogazici University, Istanbul Turkey (1974) and a PhD in Biophysics, from the University of London, UK (1978).

As a postdoc she worked at The Open University, UK and Wallenberg Laboratory, Sweden and she was the first female staff scientist at the EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) Hamburg Outstation in Germany (1986-1998). She has been working as a founding faculty member at Sabanci University (SU) for the last two decades, where she took the position of the Director of the Foundations Development Program in 2011 and she is the Acting-President since February 2018.

Her research is within the domains of molecular biophysics, x-ray structure analysis of biological macromolecules, applications of synchrotron radiation, recombinant protein production and protein chemistry. She has been working on the structure of chromatin fibers and filamentous proteins including actin and intermediate filaments. More recently she has been involved in structural characterization of G proteins from plants, metal binding proteins including metallothioneins from yeast and plants, and ferric binding protein from H. influenzae.

On the education front she has been teaching several biophysics, structural biology and cell biology courses. She is interested in modern pedagogical approaches and she has been involved in the design and development of the interdisciplinary core (liberal arts) curriculum at SU. She has implemented flipped classroom and active learning approaches with a team of young teachers in the first year science course at SU.

She has a large number of publications, book chapters and invited conference presentations and key note lectures.  She has supervised several MSc and PhD theses and she received fellowships and grants from Natural Sciences Research Council-Sweden, TUBİTAK, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), UNESCO and Jülich Research Center.

She has been the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the international synchrotron radiation facility project SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) between 2002 and 2018. She is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Turkish Accelerator Center Project (TAC). She serves as a reviewer for several international journals, grant giving agencies and laboratories including Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), USA and EMBL Hamburg Project Evaluation Panel.

Dr. Sayers is recipient of the Rammal Award 2017 for her scientific research as well as for her contributions, as Chair of SAC, to the SESAME project from its construction to maturation as an international user facility.