Exploring what makes us human

Grad profile: Emre Fertan, Faculty of Science

- May 27, 2015

Faculty of Science graduate Emre Fertan. (Danny Abriel photo)
Faculty of Science graduate Emre Fertan. (Danny Abriel photo)

When recalling some of the reasons he was drawn to Halifax for university, Emre Fertan described his desire for a change of pace. Halifax was a stark contrast to the busy and often chaotic city of Istanbul where Emre grew up, which made it the perfect place to call home and focus on his Bachelor of Science degree.  

“Halifax is very welcoming, especially when people find out you’re an international student,” says Emre, noting that strangers in front of him in line somewhere wouldn’t turn around and strike up a conversation in Istanbul.

But it was Emre’s second year studying at Dalhousie that he calls his “turning point” in Canada. Emre began working in Richard Brown’s behavioural neuroscience lab and instantly knew he would dedicate his career to working with the human brain. “What makes us human is our cognitive function,” he says.

In Dr. Brown’s lab, Emre has been studying mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. “Once your brain starts to fade, you’re no longer you anymore… and that’s a huge deal,” he says, noting the significance of the life-changing disease.

He says he learns the most in the lab, but his volunteer experience with the QEII Health Sciences Centre gives him a unique perspective as well. Emre walks with geriatric patients so they can get exercise and interact with people from outside the hospital. “Some of the patients have dementia, and it’s a reminder of why we do what we do, and why it’s so important,” he says.

Building off his undergraduate degree in neuroscience, the honours student will continue to work with Dr. Brown’s research team in pursuit of a master’s degree. After that, Emre has his sights on medical school.

“In the last four years, I’ve learned how the smallest molecules in the brain regulate the most complex behaviours,” says Emre. “I have Dal to thank for that.”

This article is part of our series of profiles on the graduates of the Class of 2015. These profiles are also published in the Convocation Keepsake which is distributed at Convocation ceremonies. For more information (including live webcasts), visit the Convocation website.


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