When Didem Sarikaya joined UC Davis in 2015 as a postdoctoral researcher, she committed to ensuring women and minorities were represented in the life sciences. An organizing member of Women in Life Sciences at Davis and co-chair of the career development subcommittee for the Genetics Society of America, she’s made a focused effort to create opportunities for diversity.
“About half of all Ph.D. students in the life sciences are women, but around 30 percent of faculty are female,” said Sarikaya, “The translation from Ph.D. to faculty is a really big gap in science, and the drop off rate is even worse for underrepresented backgrounds.”
For her work, Sarikaya recently received the University of California’s President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is meant to encourage women and minority Ph.D. recipients to pursue academic careers at the University of California.
“I feel very honored and really aligned with the goals of the fellowship,” said Sarikaya. “It feeds my soul to do this work. It makes me happier and a better person.”
Sarikaya plans to use resources from the two-year fellowship to tackle issues related to departmental culture and career training to improve retention of women and underrepresented scientists in academia. Born in Canada to Turkish parents, she spent her childhood in Canada, Turkey, Japan and the United States.
In the upcoming year, she’ll work to create workshops for the UC Davis Graduate Student Association and UC faculty members that provide an intersectional perspective on career development. Sarikaya hopes to raise awareness and provide resources to help faculty better understand the challenges underrepresented students may face when making career decisions.
About UC Davis Graduate Studies
Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes 99 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.
UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.
For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.