As part of the knowledge economy, individuals with a Ph.D. desire an in-depth knowledge within a specific field. To begin this journey, all Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy candidates must have very specific criteria to enter the doctoral program including a masters degree, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that describes why they are seeking a PhD, what they have done so far to prepare themselves, and what goals they plan to achieve later.
For Begüm Bozkaya, her pursuit of a doctoral degree program was a way to explore advancements, provide more areas for career opportunity and continue to grow professionally.
Because of her appreciation in the study of electrochemistry during grad school that focused on batteries including Li-ion and carbon research, Fraunhofer Institute approached her about a position to work on advanced lead acid batteries. The opportunity was for more than just a Ph.D., as it was a complete package that involved a paid position on industrial projects. The program through Fraunhofer kept Bozkaya busy working on various carbon related industry projects, participating in networking and conferences, interacting with the lead battery industry, and of course spending time on her own studies.
“It’s important to network just as much as it is to allow time for your personal and social life,” Bozkaya said reflecting on her work-life balance. “You need to keep the bigger picture in mind. I recommend networking to help you widen your perspectives by meeting new people to collaborate with. During this time, she recommends shaping and structuring your thesis.
Bozkaya describes the path to her Ph.D. with a range of emotions and ultimately perseverance in overcoming a program that challenges you each day. She explained that there was a period toward the end of the program where her work was consuming, her ability to find focus time to write was limited, and she began to feel overwhelmed. She thought about quitting.
Instead, she found the motivation to keep going by just doing a little more each day.
“When you feel like you don’t want to continue in the program, give yourself one more push. You owe it to yourself. Then you will start to see how those little steps will move you forward. And the result will be rewarding.”
Her advice for anyone entering a doctoral program is to believe in yourself.
She warned that at some point you may start to feel overwhelmed for any number of reasons, and you might want to reconsider the research path. “That is the time to really lean into the support from your friends, family and colleagues,” encouraged Bozkaya.
That support and effort paid off and finally put her over the hump. And along with encouragement from both an old colleague and her family, Bozkaya could finally grasp her goal.
“The day of my defense was filled with emotion because of all the ups and downs it took to get this point,” said Bozkaya.
She completed her defense with an excellent score - a 1.0!
After an academic journey that started with a Bachelors in Chemistry, then a Masters of Materials Science, Begüm Bozkaya finally defended her Ph.D. thesis entitled, “Influence of Carbon Additives on the Electrochemical Performance of Modern Lead-Acid Batteries” on May 10, 2023.
Now Bozkaya continues her interest in materials science and batteries. In 2021, she was offered a role as Technical Manager for the Consortium for Battery Innovation. Bozkaya works with colleagues to secure EU funding projects and is responsible for CBI’s technical program in Europe – including workshops and conferences. Catch one of her presentations at an upcoming CBI conference and be sure to congratulate her on the new doctorate.