Semahat S. Demir, Ph.D
Dr. Semahat Demir has 22 years experience in academic research, 10 years experience in teaching in academia, 2 years experience in medical industry and 7.5 years experience in research funding administration and science/public diplomacy in the US federal government. Currently she is the Program Director for Biomedical Engineering at National Science Foundation (NSF) and she has been a professor of Biomedical Engineering since 1996. She is an Honorary Research Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA, 2006-2008), an advisor to Istanbul Kultur University (Istanbul, Turkey) and an Adjunct Faculty, Joint Biomedical Engineering Program of University of Memphis and University of Tennessee Health Science Center. In 2009, she was selected as an Embassy Science Fellow by USA Department of State. Dr. Demir promotes scientific education and outreach, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research in the fields of engineering, sciences, technology, mathematics, medicine and life sciences, and the development of research collaborations and diversity partnerships.
Her work experience as an engineer in medical laser and x-ray device industry, as a faculty and researcher of biomedical engineering in academia, and as a funding administrator in government and in science and public diplomacy provides her with comprehensive technical experience and expertise and also with different industry, academia and government perspectives that she utilizes in her job. Since she has worked in all of the three workforce categories, she has a unique set of technical and professional skills and contributions.
Semahat Demir received her junior and senior high school diplomas from Robert College (1981, 1984, Turkey), BS degree in Electronics Engineering from Istanbul Technical University (1988, Turkey), MS degree in Biomedical Engineering from Bosphorous University (1996, Turkey), and second MS degree and PhD degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rice University (1992 and 1995 respectively, Houston, TX). Dr. Demir did postdoctoral training at Biomedical Engineering Department, Johns Hopkins University (1995-96, Baltimore, MD). In Turkey, she received the “Doçent” (Electronics Engineering) title awarded by the Interuniversity High Council of Turkish Universities, Turkey. She was given the appointment of tenured full Professor (Faculty of Engineering, Computer Engineering Department, Marmara University) in May 2006.
Before joining NSF, Dr. Demir was a professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program of University of Memphis and University of Tennessee Health Science Center during (1996-2006) where she established an internationally recognized research and education program in computational bioengineering. She also held joint appointments in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Neuroscience Center. She supervised, trained and mentored 42 undergraduate students, graduate students and postdocs in research. She was a visiting professor at Istanbul Technical University, Bogazici University (former Robert College), Isik University and Yeditepe University in Turkey. Currently, she is a consultant and advisor to the Chair of Board Trustees and to President of Istanbul Kultur University. She is also a member of Board Trustees Atilim University, Ankara, Turkey.
In industry, Dr. Demir worked as the Technical Manager and Medical Laser Engineer for two German companies, Messerschmidt Bolkow Blohm and Rodenstock, in Turkey (1988-1989). She was also a research and development engineer in the X-Ray Division of the Medical Engineering Center of Siemens Company in Erlangen, Germany (1988). Semahat Demir did internships at the Automation Center of Siemens in Karlsruhe in Germany (1986) and also at Etmas and Simko of Siemens AG in Istanbul Turkey (1985 and 1987).
Dr. Demir served both as an Expert Scientist and a Consultant (for the Bioinformatics Research Initiative funded by the World Bank) for The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey under the Prime Ministry of Turkey (Ankara, Turkey, 1999-2000).
Dr. Demir’s academic research is in the area of computational bioengineering. Her research program integrates research, education and training, and emphasizes mathematical modeling and computer simulations in both cardiac electrophysiology and neuroscience. Her focus is bioelectricity in subcellular, cellular and multi-cellular systems. A major thrust in her computational modeling laboratory is also the development of computational models and software for different computer platforms including applications for internet. She develops simulation-based teaching and learning resources; the interactive cell modeling resource, iCell, is one them. She has been disseminating her computational models of cellular bioelectric activities through her interactive cell modeling resource iCell since 1998.
Dr. Demir gave 395 (295 invited) presentations, talks, seminars and workshops in USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, UK, Uruguay, Greece, and Turkey. She has served as a reviewer on the grant review panels of National Science Foundation (NSF) Bioengineering and Environmental Systems Division (1999-2003), Whitaker Foundation (2001) & Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom, 2003). She is a journal and book reviewer for Biophysical Journal, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, Journal of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Springer-Verlag New York Inc., Drug Discovery Today, Elsevier Trends Journals, American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology and Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society.
She has 130 publications (including 7 refereed book chapters and 3 books (in progress)). She wrote 12 articles as the Associate Editor for Industry Affairs of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Engineering in Medicine & Biology Magazine and two articles for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Magazine. There are 175 editorials and articles written about Dr. Demir and her work and 17 TV programs hosted her. Currently she is authoring/editing the following three books with the invitations of the book companies: "Modeling of Cellular Electrical Activity: Experimental and Simulation Applications" for Bioelectric Engineering Book Series Springer Verlag, and “Computational Modeling of Cellular Bioelectricity” and “Biomedical Engineering Education, Training and Careers” Books for the Biomedical Engineering Book Series for Morgan-Claypool Publishers.
Dr. Demir's numerous professional society leadership activities include: Director (Vice-President) of SWE (2010-2012 & 2006-08); North America Representative of IEEE EMBS AdCom (governing board) 2012-2014; Members-at-Large Representative of IEEE EMBS AdCom (governing board) 2001-2003; Chair, Exhibits/Job Committees, Joint Meetings of IEEE/EMBS and BMES, 1999 & 2001; Chair and Vice-chair, Memphis IEEE/EMBS Chapter; Founder-Advisor, EMBS Student Club (Brainwave); Deputy Conference Chair, 22nd Conference of IEEE/EMBS, 2000; Job Fair Coordinator, World Congress 2000; and Chair, IEEE/EMBS Industrial Relations Committee, 2000-2001; Chair, IEEE/EMBS Distinguished Lecturers Committee; Vice-chair of Professional Development (2003-2005), Member-at-Large Representative (2005-2008) of Biomedical Engineering Division ASEE; Board Representative of the Health and Biomedical Sciences of the Turkish American Scientists and Scholars Association (TASSA) (2006-2008); Board Members, American Turkish Association of Washington DC (ATA-DC) 2007-1009; Chair of Women in Academia Committee of SWE 1999-2004; and SWE International Outreach Taskforce (2005-06). Dr. Demir is the Founder-Advisor of Female Engineers Mentor for Success (FEMS), a peer-mentoring group for female biomedical engineering students (University of Memphis and University of Tennessee, 2003-present). She has served as theme, track and session chair and organizer of a number of conferences at EMBS, BMES, SWE, ASEE and other societies. Dr. Demir has served on the governing boards of IEEE EMB AdCom, SWE, ASEE BED, TASSA and ATA-DC. She is the EMBS Liaison, IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee. She is the counselor of the SWE iCIG students at Koc University, Istanbul.
Dr. Demir receives very special invitations to very unique meetings. For example, she was a Delegate to China for the People to People Ambassador Programs (2000), was an invited member of the National Advisory Council (NAC), the Interdisciplinary Program, National Fellowship for Women’s Policy Leadership in Health, Science and Engineering Program for Mid-career Women Faculty (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2008, was an Invited Senior Faculty member at the 3rd Annual Leadership Skills and Community-Building Workshop for Untenured Women Faculty (2003), was a Selected Faculty Participant for the National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Leadership Institute for Senior Women Faculty (2004), and was a SWE representative at the Women in Engineering Leadership Summit (2004). She participated in WELI conferences in 2005 and 2006. She participated in the SWE Diversity and Inclusion Training, SWE Multicultural Diversity Training and Native American Learning Lodge, Exploring the Foundations of Diversity, A trans-cultural Learning Lodge, a trans-cultural inquiry into the Indigenous worldview. She was invited to serve on the Task Force of Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering for the Turkish Parliament (2003). Dr. Demir has received several nominations for senior academic positions including Vice Chancellor for Research, Vice President for Research, Associate Provost for Research, Dean, Department Chair/Head and Endowed Professor.
Dr. Demir serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology (IJBET). She is the Associate Editor for Industry Affairs of EMB Magazine since 2001. Semahat Demir was featured on page 84 as a scientist role model along with a neurosurgeon, a sculpturer and a scuba diving champion under the “Once they were children” section of The Turkish Ministry of Education 3rd Grade Social Sciences Book (mandatory curriculum book).
Dr. Demir combined science diplomacy with public diplomacy effectively as a USA Embassy Science Fellow. Her overall mission succeeded in expanding the U.S. Ankara Embassy’s outreach to the Turkish government, universities, industry and media, initiating a collaboration with TUBITAK (the Turkish National Funding Agency), collecting information for education and research areas between the United States and Turkey, identifying research and academic areas of mutual interest and priority, and answering questions and guiding scientists on connecting resources and opportunities. USA and Turkey signed a Science and Technology agreement on 10/20/2010 where Dr. Demir’s report “Science Diplomacy with Public Diplomacy” provided the foundation with recommendations on how to improve collaborations. She also served on the USA Delegation for Joint Commission Meeting in Science and Technology, United States – Argentina (2010).
Dr. Demir participates as a leader in numerous diverse technical, professional and community activities (such as IEEE EMBS, SWE, ASEE and BMES), teaches biomedical engineering courses and mentors students. She continues training and stimulating female and male students to achieve full potential in their future careers as engineers, researchers and leaders. Recently she received Special Recognition Award at the Women of Color in Health, Science and Technology Award Conference (2002), Distinguished New Engineer Award at the Society of Women Engineers National Conference (2003), and the Fifth Annual Daughters of Ataturk, Women of Distinction Award (2003 & 2010) and Behram Kursunoglu Science Award (2006). Dr. Semahat Demir was selected as 2004 Featured Engineer by Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for “Exemplary Leadership to IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and the Biomedical Engineering Community” and received the Achievement Award of Memphis Joint Engineers Council on February 23, 2004. She is the inaugural recipient of the Emerging Leader Award in the Academia at the Society of Women Engineers National Conference (2005) and the citation reads “Dr. Demir is receiving this award for her demonstrated leadership in engineering academia, her ability to inspire others as a role model and her excellence as a scientist and educator.” She received Program Officer Excellence Award and Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration at NSF (2006). She received 67 awards.
The citation in the Distinguished New Engineer Award that Dr. Demir received reads “Semahat Siddika Demir, Ph.D., embraces Society of Women Engineers’ mission daily through her cutting-edge research in cardiac electrophysiology; her exceptional leadership in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society; her inspirational teaching of promising scholars; her outstanding outreach to women, minorities, and the international community; and her dedicated service to Society of Women Engineers.”
Her recent hobbies are ballroom dancing, chorus singing of Turkish Folk Music, hosting interview shows for the Turkish-American Hour at the Fairfax Public Access TV of Washington DC area and hosting the Turkish Festival of Washington DC on Freedom Plaza, Pennsylvania Avenue as Master of Ceremonies.
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