Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey

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Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey
Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu, TÜBİTAK
Agency overview
Jurisdiction Turkey
Headquarters Ankara
Website tubitak.gov.tr

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu, TÜBİTAK) is the leading agency for developing science, technology and innovation (STI) policies,supporting and conducting research and development activities; and playing a leading role in the creation of a science and technology culture in Turkey since 1963. TÜBİTAK is an autonomous public institution, governed by a Science Board.

TÜBİTAK not only supports innovation, academic and industrial R&D studies but also develops scientific and technological policies and manages R&D institutes, carrying on research, technology and development studies in line with national priorities. TÜBİTAK also acts as an advisory agency to the Turkish Government and is the secretariat of the Supreme Council for Science and Technology, highest science and technology policy making body in Turkey. Through monitoring and evaluating national and worldwide STI policies and by performing or commissioning research on policy making formulation methods, TÜBİTAK prepares STI policy proposals and carries out studies identifying and proposing the best tools for implementing the existing policies.

History[edit]

TÜBİTAK was established by President Cemal Gürsel, who first formed a scientific council to guide the Ministry of Defense (in parallel to a separate scientific law council to write the new constitution of the Turkish Republic) in 1960 and later ordered the foundation of the broader Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey as the extended continuation of his MoD Scientific Council with the primary advisory duty of providing guidance to the government's plans and policies.

Subsequently, the bill "278" passed on July 24, 1963, in the new era of planned economy subsequent to the first five year development plan of the country, set the official record for the Council's presence and duties. Cahit Arf, who was appointed by Gursel as the founding director and whose leading foundation work was assisted by a group of scientists including Prof. Erdal İnönü,[1] was subsequently named as the first chairman of the Council on December 26, 1963. The Council's first ten members were professors Erdal İnönü, Ratip Berker, Hikmet Binark, Mecit Çağatay, Reşat Garan, Feza Gürsey, Orhan Işık, Mustafa İnan, Atıf Şengün and İhsan Topaloğlu. They nominated Professor Nimet Özdaş as the first secretary general of TÜBİTAK effective March 1, 1964.

At that time of its establishment, TÜBİTAK’s primary tasks at the time were supporting basic and applied academic research and encouraging careers in science by providing incentives to young researchers, in particular to those working in natural sciences. To carry out these tasks, four research grant committees were set up to fund projects in the areas of basic sciences, engineering, medicine, agriculture and animal husbandry. The number now stands at ten and also includes one assigned to social sciences and humanities, all functioning under the Research Support Programmes Department. A separate “Scientist Training Group”, also set up at the time to orient promising students towards scientific careers and help their advancement thereafter, has now evolved into the present Science Fellowships and Grant Programmes Division.

Activities[edit]

TÜBİTAK is responsible for the development and coordination of scientific research in line with the national targets and priorities, set by the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA). More than 2,500 researchers work at the 15 different research institutes and research centers attached to TÜBİTAK, where both contract-based and targeted nation-wide research is conducted. TÜBİTAK represents Turkey in international research efforts including memberships in European Science Foundation and the European Union Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development.

Following research centers and institutes are subordinate to TÜBİTAK:[2]

  • Marmara Research Center (MAM)
    • Energy Institute
    • Food Institute
    • Chemistry Institute
    • Environment Institute
    • Materials Institute
    • Earth and Marine Sciences Institute
    • Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Institute
  • Center of Research for Advanced Technologies of Informatics and Information Security (BILGEM)

Awards[edit]

TÜBİTAK gives following awards:[3]

  • Science Award to living scientists for significant contributions to the advancement of universal science (Category:Recipients of TÜBİTAK Science Award)
  • Service Award to those, who have significantly served the development of science and technology (Category:Recipients of TÜBİTAK Service Award)
  • Incentive Award to living scientists under the age of 40 and who have proved to have the necessary qualifications to contribute to science in the future at an international level,
  • Special Award to Turkish scientists living abroad (equivalent to the TÜBITAK Science Award).

Censorship of Evolution[edit]

Despite the acclaimed role in promoting scientific thinking among Turkish public as well as in shaping the nation’s scientific policies,[4] the council has been criticized for taking an anti-evolutionary attitude since the late 2000s after rulling Justice and Development Party came to power.[5] In the March 2009 issue of Council’s popular scientific periodical “Bilim ve Teknik”, the initially planned cover story commemorating the 200th Birthday of Charles Darwin was retracted after a last minute decision by the board of directors proclaimed as the result of missing links in editorial processes and procedures. Subsequently, editor in chief Çiğdem Atakuman was forced to resign.[6][5] The board of director member Dr. Ömer Cebeci stated that the “Darwin” cover was prepared without the board’s consent. Upon publicizing of the matter in the media as well as strong reaction by scientific community,[7] in June 2009, the periodical had evolution theory as its cover, but this time illustrated by a less provocative butterfly picture than the initially planned Darwin picture.[8][9] In January 2012, upon asked about the Council’s view on the Darwin’s theory of evolution during a press conference, TUBITAK’s head director Yücel Altunbaşak stated “Turkey needs integrity. We’re talking of planes and missilies. This is our focus. There are some who believe in evolution and there are some who don’t. We rather need unity”.[10] In January 2013, the Council was once again criticized in the media for not publishing new editions of sold out popular science books on evolution and natural history, among them “The Selfish Gene” (R. Dawkins), “Guns, Germs, and Steel” (J. Diamond), “The Blind Watchmaker” (R. Dawkins), “Ever Since Darwin” (S.J. Gould),.[11] The Council denies censorship and claims this matter to be a result of copyright disagreement and disputes in publishing rights within Turkey with the third parties.[12][13] The organization has thus far not made any clear statement regarding its position on evolution.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]