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Turkish News Round Up:  29.01.2021

Sciences

An awards ceremony, held at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, and seen as Turkey’s equivalent to the Nobel Awards, saw recognition for some of the country’s up and coming scientists yesterday.

Hosting the ceremony, which was organized by the prestigious Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) and the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recognised the thriving science community, in fields ranging from health, engineering and social sciences.  He observed “Turkey’s accomplishments in the past 18 years are thanks to recognizing knowledge and science. Scientists are undoubtedly the most important architects of this success with their sacrifice of time to create added value for their nation and humanity, along with parents who devote themselves to the education of their children. Every new study or project you undertake demonstrates Turkey’s strength in the sciences. We are trying to support every scientist discovering, researching and producing,”

The president also mentioned the scientists’ efforts in the fight against the coronavirus. “Three innovative (Turkish) vaccine candidates are on the verge of starting phase studies. Work by our professors has the potential to become the third vaccine candidate in the clinical stage in its category in the world,” he said, and observed that there were currently some 436 researchers working on 17 projects for vaccine and drug development via the platform initiated by TÜBITAK.

The recipients of this years’ TÜBITAK awards in the Basic Sciences category were professors Mustafa Soylak, for his endeavours in the field of chemistry and Ismail Turkan who was awarded for his work.  In the Engineering Sciences category professors Ozgur Baris Akan was awarded for his work on communications theory and the “Internet of Things” (IOT)  and Hilmi Volkan Demir was recognised for his work on semi-condutor nanocrystal optoelectronics.

Together with their awards, each recipient receives a research grant, to allow for further studies in their chosen fields.

The TÜBITAK Special Award went to Professor Cengiz Sinan Özkan and a further 13 Incentive Awards were handed down to other noted scientists.

TÜBA international awards were handed to Erik Jeppesen, a Danish professor working on the impact of climate change; Okyay Kaynak, a mechatronics researcher, who serves as emeritus professor at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul ; Palestinian professor Wael B. Hallaq, who is a leading scholar in the field of Islamic legal studies at Columbia University in the USA and Murat Günel, a leading authority in his field of carotid artery and gamma knife surgery.

A further 31 young scientists were awarded the Outstanding Young Scientist award by Tuba.

 

Food

As we all know, Turkish cuisine is among the best in the world – and this was confirmed at the Taste Atlas awards 2020 held recently.  The world’s top 100 world-famous dishes were announced, based on ratings by over 63,000 tasters, with Turkey’s Adana Kebab being ranked in 2nd place with over 60,000 votes, beaten only by the Margharita Pizza.

Turkey was also mentioned a further four times in the top 20 list, with the Doner Kebab (5th), Sarma at 10th, the stuffed vine-leaf dish, Dolma, had a mention at 11th place and the humble Kofte made it at number 20.

The Adana kebab is traditionally made by combining hand-minced lamb and tail fat, kneaded together with garlic, onion, paprika, and hot red pepper flakes, to give a deep red color and a spicy flavor, before pressing onto iron skewers and grilling on an open barbecue.

Marking the recognition of his city’s famous kebab, which received a Controlled Designation of Origin registration in February 2005, Atila Menevse told Turkish radio of his pride that Adana’s trademark dish had been honoured in this way.  “This award is valuable for our city and our country” he said, and continued “we are elated to receive this recognition.  Adana is a city rich in gastronomy, with a wealth of tastes which has been handed down from our ancestors.”

Adana is continuing efforts to promote it’s unique traditional and historical cuisine, with other tastes also being showcased.  Mr Menevse informed reporters ““We are trying to create a brand for our city and provide benefits to its economy. Adana kebab is a taste and jewel known and wondered about around the world, not just in Turkey. We are striving to polish this jewel and others like it, and to raise them to their deserved heights,”

 

School Holiday Ideas

As schools in Turkey begin their annual holiday, which this year has been extended to 3 weeks (albeit most children have been learning from home for several months due to Covid-19 restrictions), many parents will be wondering how to keep their off-spring entertained, and reward them for coping with what must be seen as the most difficult of times, for youngsters who have been incarcerated at home for some 21 hours each day.

Whilst no-one is advocating a hotel break in these strange times, there are countless wonderful and natural outdoor wonders to visit on the doorstep of many of Turkey’s cities and towns.

One such visit could be to your local archaelogical site, many of which are easily accessible, being just a few hours drive, such as Ephesus – the best preserved ancient site on the Mediterranean and a UNESCO listed World Heritage site, or the nearby historic site of Selcuk coupled with the neighbouring Ottoman village of Sirince.

Another outing could be to Troy, (known in Turkey as Truva), the site of the famous Trojan wars, and of course the Trojan Horse as related in Homer’s Iliad, and where an impressive new archeology museum stands to enhance your family’s experience.

Troy is located conveniently close to the coastal town of Canakkale, where you can take a boat to Gallipoli, the historic battleground where thousands of Turkish, British, Australian and New Zealand troops lost their lives in World War 1 and whose valiant efforts are remembered at grand ceremonies on Anzac Day (April 25th).

 

On another day, why not visit the lesser known walled town of Iznik.  This pretty and historical town, previously Nicaea, is known as the birthplace of the Nicaean Creed, the foundation of Christianity.   The town’s Lake Iznik, which recently revealed the St Neophythos Basilica, is home to many species of waterfowl and, being a flat terrain, is an ideal place to take the family for an afternoon’s cycling around it’s 32km perimeter.

The town is also known for it’s famous pottery and there are numerous ceramic workshops available.

 

Another suggestion for yet another family outing – this time to the Yedigoller National Park (7 lakes) in the Black Sea province of Bolu.  Winter often sees heavy snow in this region, which makes the area a magical place to visit at this time of year.

The area is home to a variety of wildlife such as bears, lynxes, foxes, wolves and otters – with a separate reserve for deers and is an excellent place to hike or cycle.

 

Finally, a little bit further away from Istanbul, yet just over an hour’s flying time, is one of Turkey’s most visited areas – Cappadocia, which captivates visitors due to the ‘fairy chimneys’, thespecial formations of rock which are prevalent in this area.  Whilst the area’s famous balloon rides may not be an option in freezing conditions, winter generally sees this area covered in a blanket of snow, making for an ethereal experience to this magical birthplace of Christianity.  Your children will be enthralled with their visit to an underground city, and in awe of the tales of early Christians hiding many feet beneath the surface of the town.

The Goreme Open Air Museum is home to many well-preserved churches and cave paintings, and indeed, your hotel here is very likely to be one of the many which have transformed some of the area’s caves into unique rooms usually with steaming hot tubs and hamams also on hand to warm up after your day’s exploring.

The towns and areas mentioned here can be considered far more enjoyable during the cooler winter months, and far less busy than in the tourist-ridden, sweltering summer days and it is often fascinating to explore the history, beauty and forgotten towns and villages right on your doorstep.

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