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Alumna receives 2018 Science Academy Award for Young Researchers

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Alumni,   Kudos,   Research,   Spotlight

Zelha Tunç-Pekkan, an associate professor and chair of the department of mathematics education at MEF University in Istanbul, recently received the 2018 Science Academy Award for Young Researchers to enhance her studies on children's construction of fractions and its relationship to algebra.

Established in 2011, the Science Academy in Istanbul is an independent organization that promotes and preserves scientific excellence, scientific methods, traditions and procedures, as well as scientific freedom and integrity to represent and sustain the spirit of science. The Academy's Young Scientist Awards Program helps scientists under 40 further their studies in the field.

"Receiving this award as a mathematics educator and an educational researcher means so much to me—it is really encouraging," said Tunç-Pekkan, who also serves as vice dean of faculty of education at MEF University. "It tells me that I should not stop asking questions and to keep trying to answer those scientific investigations."

As part of her studies, Tunç-Pekkan helped implement a program called University within School to include faculty teaching in real classrooms. For the past couple of years, she has been teaching or co-teaching middle school mathematics and also works closely with pre- and in-service mathematics teachers.

"I try to provide opportunities for them to think about children's mathematics in their work," said Tunç-Pekkan. "We have presented some of this research at conferences and published journal papers as well. But there is still so much data and so many questions to answer. Hopefully, this career award will help me focus on disseminating the results."

Tunç-Pekkan, who received her PhD in mathematics education in 2008, credits the University of Georgia's College of Education with helping her learn how to ask scientific questions in education and to design and conduct studies with various research projects. While at UGA, she received the Graduate School's Dissertation Award, which helped her complete the program.

She will attend the Science Academy's award ceremony for young researchers on April 27.

"The professors, especially Dr. Spangler and Dr. Steffe, whom I interacted during my doctoral studies at UGA were very supportive of our academic work," she said. "They were always encouraging and provided many opportunities for us. I want to thank each and every of them."

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