Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 11, 2024

On February 11th we are celebrating the 9th annual International Day of Women in Girls in Science.

This day recognizes the importance of women and girls in the sciences and promotes the equal access and participation in women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In celebration of the day, we are featuring a few of the remarkable women in SIAT. Meet assistant professor Ö. Nilay Yalçin and PhD student Vanessa Utz and learn more abou their journeys in the science and technology fields.

Dr. Ö. Nilay Yalçin

SIAT assistant professor Ö. Nilay Yalçin's interest in science, and specifically cognitive science, began with an increasing curiosity to understand human cognition and the potential of artificial intelligence to model the human mind.

Cognitive science is a unique interdisciplinary field and Yalçin was intrigued by the interplay of the different disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, and AI, to tackle one very complex problem at different angles.

“I loved what my mentors and other researchers in cognitive science and AI created in their work, the excitement they had when they talked about their research and I wanted to be a part of it," says Yalçin.

Yalçin went on to complete a bachelor's degree at Management Engineering at Istanbul Technical University, a Master of Science at Middle East Technical University, and a PhD in AI-powered interactive agents at the School of Interactive Arts & Technology.

Learn more about Ö. Nilay Yalçin's experiences

Vanessa running preliminary tests for an art installation by artists & scientists Diemut Strebe and Steve DiPaola. The installation was created using some of the iViz lab's AI-based conversational agents and creativity tools.

Vanessa Utz

PhD student Vanessa Utz had a strong interest in the sciences from a young age and discovered cognitive science while completing her bachelor's degree at SFU.

Vanessa graduated with a degree in cognitive science from SFU in 2017 and went on to complete a Master of Science in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Amsterdam. She graduated cum laude in 2019 and is now pursuing her PhD at the School of Interactive Arts & Technology.

Vanessa’s current research explores how recent advances in generative AI are impacting our lives in different ways and investigates how we choose to interact with these systems.

“I strive to ensure that we—scientists, developers, and engineers—are on the right path and that we collectively consider the real-world implications of our work,” says Vanessa.

Learn more about Vanessa Utz's experiences