Mr. Berkay Dönmez

Can you say a few words about yourself?
I am Berkay, a doctoral student at EPFL working on modeling the aerosol-cloud interactions in the Arctic region. I grew up in Istanbul and obtained my BSc (Meteorological Engineering) and MSc (Atmospheric Sciences) degrees from the Meteorological Engineering department of Istanbul Technical University.

Did you choose your profession or did it choose you?
It was a mix of both. I chose my profession in the sense that I have always wanted to be involved in a setting that would connect nature with science. On the other hand, my profession chose me such that the moment I visited the campus/department of my previous university, it implicitly established a connection with me by having an amazing environment to study meteorology and engineering.

What attracted you to join LAPI?
LAPI offers researchers a collaborative environment dedicated to executing high-level scientific research using state-of-the-art methods. I am thrilled be a part of this group.

Can you speak about the projects you are currently working on and other ones in the past?
My PhD focuses on modeling the impacts of the warm and moist air mass intrusions on the aerosol-cloud interactions across the Arctic as part of the VAERTICAL project. Given the multi-aspect nature of the work I will be doing, which involves analyzing in-situ aerosol measurements from various Arctic campaigns and constraining a model with these observations, I am a part of both the LAPI and EERL (Extreme Environments Research Laboratory) groups at EPFL.
In the past, during my BSc and MSc, I studied the short-term and long-term interaction between urbanization, heat, and precipitation, using high-resolution weather and climate data output from the WRF and COSMO models. Also, I had the opportunity to experience how academic research is being translated into everyday products both within the renewable energy and climate-related private sectors. As part of my personal projects, I co-founded the Climaturk platform, which provides both researchers and students in Turkey with past severe weather analyses of Turkey.

What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Simplifying and filtering out research outputs relevant to the broader community demands a comprehensive understanding of the research questions and a streamlined approach to engaging with the community. Thus, communicating your research to a non-scientific audience is always a challenge. Similarly, shaping the Climaturk research platform to benefit users from diverse backgrounds the most has been a challenge.

What have been some of your biggest successes? 
Continuously rediscovering a part of me that would take the initiative to derive tangible outcomes/products/tutorials from the research I am involved in has always been one of the biggest moments filled with satisfaction.

You split your time between teaching and research. How do you view these two roles?
I view teaching not only as an incredible tool to pinpoint what you do not know enough but also an indispensable part of knowledge transfer, one of the objectives of doing research. I am super excited to be involved in both.

What do you enjoy to do, outside of science and research?
I am a big fan of playing electric guitar, singing, and making and recording new music with my twin brother! I enjoy walking for hours and exploring new surroundings. However, I had never hiked for more than seven hours, with uphill climbs exceeding 1600 meters until my inaugural hiking in Switzerland. Eager to practice high-difficulty hiking paths more often!

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
One of the most interesting places I have been might be the misty performing stage of the competition The Voice.

A free thought for the end?
Here is a proverb in Turkish that I really like. “Su Akar Yatağını Bulur”. Namely, things will work themselves out.