Zehra Sayers, is a Founding Faculty Member at Sabancı University, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, and she has also been serving as the Director of Foundation Development Program of the university since 2010.
Professor Sayers, with a B.Sc. in Physics from Boğaziçi University and Ph.D. in Biophysics from University of London, has worked as a postdoc at Open University Oxford campus and at Uppsala University in Sweden. In 1985 she joined European Molecular Biology Laboratory Hamburg Outstation in Germany as the first female staff scientist and was among the pioneers for use of synchrotron radiation X-rays in studies of three dimensional studies of biological macromolecules. While in Germany she obtained a ‘Habilitation’ degree from University of Hamburg.
Her research focuses on structure-function relationships in proteins using synchrotron X-rays. At Sabancı University in year 2000, she and her students have led the way in Turkey in recombinant protein production, protein chemistry and analyses with synchrotron. After taking her position at the Foundation development Program she also got involved in research in pedagogy with emphasis on development of core curriculum courses, active learning and flipped classroom implementations.
Professor Sayers has been active in the international science arena, having been engaged in several projects. She has been the Chair of Scientific Advisory Committee of the international project SESAME (Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) since 2001, playing a leading role in the project from its early stages to its completion. She has served as a reviewer for the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), USA, for the French National Research Agency and for the Research Foundation Flanders (Belgium). Her other involvements include membership of the Internatıonal Scientific Advisory Committee for Turkish Accelerator Center Project (TAC) and of the EMBL Hamburg Project Evaluation Panel.
Her research, supported by institutions including Natural Sciences Research Council-Sweden, TUBİTAK, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), UNESCO, Jülich Research Center, has culminated in several publications and she has supervised a large number graduate students.