I grew up in a nice town in Ankara, Turkey. We had a big yard with 2 big pine trees for perfect climbing and a big mulberry tree perfect for climbing and eating. In the neighborhood there were many empty lots where kids could run and play (they are all filled with big buildings now). Our street started with a high slope and eased toward the middle where our house was. It was such a fun place for sledding in the winter and biking in the summer. I learned to skateboard by letting myself go at the top of the street. I still remember where each bump or hole is and whether it hurts a lot or a little if one falls a particular one.
I always thought I wanted to be a psychiatrist when I grew up. During the summer after high school graduation my Mom suggested that I might be more interested in computers. I listened (yes!) and studied Computer Engineering at Middle East Technical University. During college, I thought writing Cobol programs and managing databases or systems were a great joy. I changed my mind after interviewing at a few places and saw that it was not the right job for me. I decided to stay at the University where I could combine research and teaching. Luckily one of my professors offered me a real job at the Computer Center of Middle East Technical University. I did not write Cobol programs but I did help manage databases and systems. I also did my Master's. I went to the University of Pittsburgh for my Ph.D. I now very much enjoy my current position at Michigan Tech.
I have a family I'm very proud of. I'm married to Soner Onder. We have two lovely kids, a daughter, Gunseli; and a son, Ilhan Kemal. I have two younger siblings. My brother is a pediatric surgeon and also working towards a PhD in Pharmacology. My sister is a lawyer with a Master's degree (LLM) in international law. My father (deceased) was a civil engineer, and my mother (deceased) was a newsletter editor. My maternal grandmother and grandfather ran clothing shops. They both spoke several languages including but not limited to Turkish, Tatar, English, French, Japanese, and Russian. My grandfather worked as a translator at Etibank's factory in Seydisehir, Konya. My grandmother never missed the Japanese News hour. My paternal grandmother was a librarian. She was interested in history, wrote several articles to history magazines. She also did oil paintings. Her sister, my great aunt Munevver Morali was the master painter. Their mother (my great grandmother) was one of the first women who worked outside the home during the early days of the Turkish Republic (1930s). She worked at government offices to help translate for foreign visitors. My paternal grandfather was a lawyer. He worked on several areas including patents. His father was one of the first Turkish physicians of the late Ottoman era.
Next, when (if) I grow up I want to be a cook or a gardener or a ship captain, perhaps all if I can get a sufficiently large ship. I think I'll be able to think more about the future once my kids grow up. For now, I'll keep thinking about their future and provide the best I can.