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Raşit Bilgin RC 94 Teaches Ecology and Conservation

“We should work together to learn about the impacts of our lifestyles on nature.”
COVER STORY: ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Raşit Bilgin is an Associate Professor of Biology at Boğaziçi University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences, focusing specifically on ecology and conservation.

Raşit Bilgin RC 94

What does your work at the Institute of Environmental Sciences entail?

My work focuses on wildlife research. I use genetic methods to gain a better understanding of biodiversity and to help with species conservation. I focus on bats (my personal favorites since when I was an undergraduate), dolphins, corals, and marine invertebrates. My research group has been using a relatively new approach, called environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding, to help characterize marine biodiversity in Turkey and Antarctica. We capture traces of DNA from sea water samples and analyze them to learn what species live in these regions. 

The effect of climate change varies among different individual species; some species will be able to adapt to changing climate conditions or modify their ranges, while others will go extinct, and some may even benefit. The eDNA work we do will help to create baseline assessments of species diversity in marine regions. This is important, as without these baseline data, we cannot properly study how species’ compositions are altered by climate change. 

How has RC impacted the path you have chosen?

I was always interested in nature and conservation, and probably my first actions in this regard were taken at RC, through recycling. I was part of the Explorers Club, and our camping trips were my first steps towards appreciation and excitement for doing fieldwork in nature. In a more general sense, one of the most important tools for a scientist in doing their work is critical thinking, and RC’s integration of critical thinking into both our education and our world view has helped me significantly in the path I have chosen.

Published August 2021



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