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Student Co-op Experiences

Yigit Topoglu

Yigit Topoglu HeadshotYigit Topoglu is a biomedical engineering PhD candidate in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems. He is also a researcher in Dr. Hasan Ayaz’s lab, where he studies cognitive neuroengineering, neuroergonomics, applied neuroscience, and human factors to investigate human brain function in realistic environments using various neuroimaging techniques.

Tell us about the project you were involved in.
Yigit: I have been working on a variety of projects through Drexel Solutions Institute since 2019. Recently, I have been primarily involved in two projects. The first is about the assessment of teamwork and neural synchrony in dyads in multiplayer e-gaming environments using brain imaging such as functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS, a device that measures the change of oxygen in the blood when an area of the brain becomes active) and other biomedical measures including heart rate (HR) and electrodermal activity (EDA). For the second project I am currently working on, we collaborated with Longwood Gardens and designed a study where we are continuously recording participants’ brain and heart rate activity while they were performing spatial navigation, route-finding, and nature appreciation in a real botanical garden.

What did you learn by working with external partners?
Yigit: The projects I have been involved in have helped me gain an opportunity to work with others as a team towards a goal. I also gained experience on how to use human subjects research and experimental procedures for neuroimaging studies. I have expanded my knowledge and hands-on experience in data collection and analysis of neural measure data, specifically fNIRS and EDA. In addition, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present our work to others at many conferences and collaborators, so I was able to share our findings with larger audiences while excelling in how to prepare presentations and presenting as well.

For you personally – what is the value of participating in projects that involve external partners?
Yigit: A corporate partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship between a university and an industry partner. When there is a shared goal or mission, both parties can benefit from the partnership. While involved with DSI, I gained a brand-new perspective on how to work as a team with people from diverse backgrounds. During this process, I also witnessed how academic research can contribute to industry. Hence, these projects were invaluable to me not only in being a good academic researcher, but also in being a good team player.

How has this opportunity impacted your Drexel experience?
Yigit: This opportunity made a huge impact on my Drexel experience as well as my career. While working with a corporate partner, I learned a great deal about prioritizing. After working on many collaborative projects, prioritizing my workload became second nature, and is now something I do out of habit. In addition, I met a lot of new colleagues and that extended my network extensively and made career opportunities more accessible. Furthermore, I saw my lab mates transitioning from academia to exciting leading positions in industry right after their graduation with experience they obtained by taking part in DSI projects.

What was your favorite part about participating in this opportunity?
Yigit: My favorite part of participating in these projects was the opportunity to work alongside colleagues from the biomedical engineering industry. They were always super motivating and inspiring. When we presented the results of the project to these professionals, their reaction and appreciation was fulfilling. It felt rewarding to see their excitement.

How has this project shaped your academic career?
Yigit: These projects were excellent learning opportunities for me. I learned to run neuroimaging experiments and human subjects research along with neuroimaging data collection and analysis. The experience I obtained from these projects will also have a positive impact on my PhD thesis. Overall, I can say that working on these projects shaped my academic career in a big way.

Did participating in this project affect your career interests?
Yigit: Being involved in these projects helped shape my career interests. With the help of DSI projects, I was able to attend local, regional, national, and international meetings, conferences and workshops sponsored by professional organizations. I also presented papers at conferences and workshops as part of my professional development.