It’s interesting how some children know instinctively what course to follow in life. Dr. Tuğçe Işık is a perfect example of this. Işık’s craving to learn and her ability to synthesize information and absorb knowledge was quickly noticed in elementary school by her attentive teacher, Mrs. Semiha Kaya, in Izmir, Turkey. Mrs. Kaya’s connection with Işık at an early age helped nurture her interest in school and instilled a desire for her to be a lifelong learner.
As Işık charted her future, she landed herself at Boğaziçi University to study industrial engineering. After completing her undergraduate studies in Turkey, she found herself half-way around the world at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) working on her M.S. and Ph.D. in operations research. Her graduate studies at Georgia Tech not only fueled her personal need to expand knowledge, but it also provided her the added opportunity to be a teacher. Serving in the classroom helped Işık discover the satisfaction and reward of helping students understand and grasp various difficult concepts in engineering and research. The Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech awarded Isik the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award for 2015. It was via this teaching experience that Işık confirmed that she wanted to remain in academia as a researcher and as a teacher.
Işık came to Clemson University as a research assistant professor in the fall of 2015. Her niche in industrial engineering and operations research is Stochastic Optimization, Queueing Theory and its applications to Manufacturing and Service Systems. Işık’s current work focuses on workforce management for manufacturing, but she recently started a project on appointment scheduling for time critical services. This most recent work has sparked her interest in control and optimization of service systems, which she sees as one of the most exciting outlets for operations research today. After all, service industries are the fastest growing industry segment in the U.S., and there is tremendous potential in analyzing and overcoming service operations challenges using operations research. The dividends of Işık’s research have tremendous potential and include improving service industry inefficiencies in the form of better service, better work conditions or cost savings.
While staying extremely busy as a newly appointed teacher and researcher at Clemson, Işık likes to try and find time to enjoy the outdoors, draw, and travel. One particular hobby she would like pick back up in the near future is gardening. She was able to do this while in Atlanta, and it offered her a unique outlet that benefited her in numerous ways. Işık appreciates the calming effect of gardening as well as the hard work and patience it requires in a world where instant gratification is increasingly the norm. Being a gardener in many ways parallels her life as a researcher. Gardening, like research, requires hard work, constant attention, and most importantly patience as the fruits and vegetables take shape, grow, and become ready to harvest.