Dr. Çağan Hakkı Şekercioğlu
National Geographic Emerging Explorer 2011
Dr. Cagan Hakki Sekercioglu is assistant professor at the University of Utah Department of Biology and the president of KuzeyDoga Society in Kars, Turkey. Born in Istanbul, Sekercioglu is a conservation ecologist, ornithologist, and Turkey’s first tropical biologist. An award-winning photographer, Sekercioglu’s photos have been published by National Geographic, BBC, and hundreds of magazines, newspapers, books, and other publications. Having graduated from Istanbul’s Robert College in 1993, that year Sekercioglu won a silver medal at the 1993 International Biology Olympics and started Harvard University with a full scholarship. In 1997, he graduated with degrees in Biology and Anthropology, magna cum laude, receiving a summa cum laude for his honors thesis. Following his acceptance to the Stanford University biology Ph.D. program, he took a year off to work in Alaska for the USGS National Biological Survey, to climb, photograph, and explore in South America and Antarctica, and to travel in Africa for writing his first book “Vanishing Africa”. In 2001, he was chosen one of the 100 leading academics of Turkey by Aktuel magazine. He received his Ph.D. in 2003 in ecology and ornithology from the Stanford University Department of Biology, with the thesis Causes and Consequences of Bird Extinctions. Same year, he was chosen the Outstanding Young Person of the Year in environmental and ethical leadership by Junior Chamber International of Turkey. Also in 2003, he began his community-based conservation, biodiversity research, ecological restoration, and ecotourism projects in northeastern Turkey (Kars, Igdir, Ardahan, Agri). As his projects expanded in scope, he founded the Kars-based environmental non-profit organization KuzeyDoga (www.kuzeydoga.org) in 2007. He directed KuzeyDoga while working as a senior scientist at Stanford University. In 2008, he received the Whitley Gold Award from Princess Anne of the United Kingdom, for his community-based conservation, research, restoration, and ecotourism work at Lake Kuyucuk of Kars (www.kuyucuk.org). Following the award, KuzeyDoga worked to get Kuyucuk declared eastern Turkey’s first Ramsar wetland, had the lake chosen 2008 European Destination of Excellence, and helped build Turkey’s first bird-nesting island on the lake. In 2010, these achievements led Princess Anne to invite Sekercioglu to her 60. birthday party at the Buckingham Palace. That same year, he started a faculty position at the University of Utah Department of Biology to establish his biodiversity and conservation ecology lab. Also in 2010, Sekercioglu became one of the most cited 1% of people of the past decade in ecology and environmental science, was chosen one of the 100 Hopes for the Future of Turkey by Newsweek Turkiye, and Turkey’s Scientist of the Year by NTV/Radikal. In 2011, he was chosen a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and received Turkey’s wetland conservation award, Respect for Wetlands. Sekercioglu’s achievements in ecological research and community-based conservation have been commended by Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul, The EU Minister Egemen Bagis, and the Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs Veysel Eroglu. In addition to his long-term work in Turkey, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Utah, Sekercioglu has visited over 70 countries on all continents for research and has seen over 57% of the world’s bird species in the wild. He is a Fellow International of the Explorers Club, Elective Member of the American Ornithologists Union, and a full member of the Sigma Xi Scientific Society. Sekercioglu’s 3 books and over 50 scientific publications have received over 1320 citations.
Science Coordinator and Biologist
Born in 1984 in Eskisehir, Turkey. He studied biology at Kafkas University. He is currently a graduate student in the Kafkas University Biology Department in Kars. He started to volunteer for the Kars-Iğdır Biodiversity project in April 2006 and after finishing his military service, was hired by KuzeyDoğa Society in November 2008. He is responsible for field work, promotion, public relations, lobbying, large carnivore, ethnobotany surveys and organizing plant illustration courses. He is studying the birds of Lake Kuyucuk for his master thesis. He has been living in Kars since 2001.
Chief Field Officer and Biologist
Born in 1981 in Bingol, Turkey. He studied biology at Inonu University in Malatya. He is now a graduate student in the Kafkas University Biology Department in Kars. He worked voluntarily for KuzeyDoğa Society for a year and has been working professionally since June 2008. Besides working at Aras since March 2007, he received further training at the Cernek Station of Ondokuz University in Kizilirmak Delta of Samsun province this fall and qualified to be Turkey eighth licensed ringer. He is responsible for conducting ringing studies at Aras and Kuyucuk Bird Research & Education Centers, entering and analyzing the data collected and writing scientific articles. For his thesis, he is studying the migration patterns of passerines using the Aras valley. He has been living in Kars since 2007.