Fostering Creativity in Science: Dr. Neval Erturk
Converse College biology professor Dr. Hatice Neval Erturk received the Excellence in Teaching Award sponsored by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc. (SCICU). Each of the 20 member institutions of the consortium selected one faculty member to receive the award.
The award included a $3,000 professional development stipend that could be used as desired by the faculty member, with the approval of the nominating college. Erturk used the stipend as a grant for developing new cell culture and tissue techniques.
A native of Turkey, Erturk joined the Converse faculty in 2006. Her hallmark approach to teaching is creating an environment where students take an active role in the learning process. She is known for structuring her courses so that students with a wide variety of learning styles and backgrounds master both the content and the theoretical approach central to each course. She has been especially active in securing grants that bring the best equipment and resources to the undergraduate classroom in addition to sponsoring several SCICU-funded student research grants.
“Dr. Erturk combines research and teaching in a way that fosters creativity in science—the signature of a Converse education.”
Converse President Betsy Fleming says, “Dr. Erturk combines research and teaching in a way that fosters creativity in science—the signature of a Converse education.” Dr. Jeffrey Barker, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Converse adds, “Neval Erturk has the energy and devotion to students so important in a successful teacher.”
Erturk’s research interest lays in investigation of the effects of environmental pollutants at the cellular and genetic levels. She directed a research project sponsored by SCICU on the topic of genotoxic affects of pesticide with Converse student Kimberly Shorter. The research project won first place for the best poster presentation at the South Carolina Environmental Conference and the best student presentation award at Fourth Annual USC Upstate Research Symposium.
Utilizing her interdisciplinary approach, Erturk has teamed with other Converse faculty across the liberal arts spectrum in research. She and psychology professor Dr. Richard Keen led students in an investigation of the effects of caffeine on time perception, a project that earned the best student presentation award at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Symposium. She has worked with theatre professor Brent Glenn to develop an honors course in which students assumed the roles of key players in a staged reenactment of a historical event. Students actively engaged scientific material and distilled it into dramatic text for the purpose of producing a staged living reenactment of the belief systems encountered within the scientific data. Modeled after the Reacting to the Past curriculum pioneered at Barnard College, the course was a success, a unique piece of science theatre indigenous to Converse. Along with Converse chemistry professor Dr. Sheri Strickland, Erturk co-directs the interdisciplinary CSI Converse summer workshops, a vital part of Converse’s outreach to the community youth in engaging and motivating them towards sciences.
“Neval is an energetic and enthusiastic professor who has a deep commitment to high quality science education at Converse. She has shown herself to be an adept instructor, an excellent research mentor, and an important contributor to the Converse community. We are fortunate to have her as a member of our faculty,” said Dr. Douglas Jensen, Assistant Professor of Biology and Chair of Converse’s Biology Department.
Erturk earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Biology from Hacettepe University in Turkey, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Biology with an emphasis on Molecular and Cellular Biology and Genetics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She holds professional memberships for several professional organizations, such as American Society of Plant Biologist, Association of College and University Biology Educators, Council of Undergraduate Research, Association for Women in Science and Association of Southeastern Biologist.