We proudly present the winner of the Professor Bruins Prize, Gizem Yalçin (25) from Rotterdam School of Management. Gizem, who participates in ERIM’s Research Master in Business and Management, won the award because of her excellent academic performance and research qualities. ‘There is also great appreciation for the way in which she uses her knowledge to tackle inequality, her positivity and her perseverance,’ adds the jury.
Gizem will be awarded the prize during the opening of the academic year on September 4th.
‘Thank you! I’m extremely honoured to receive this award. My department and I are especially thrilled, as I’m apparently the first person from the Rotterdam School of Management to be selected. Not to mention, Erasmus University has one of the best research master programmes and I strongly believe each nominee did an amazing job.
'I hope that I will be able to live up to the objective of the Professor Bruins Prize, and show the importance of investing in young research students and a supportive research environment.’
Why were you awarded this prize?
‘I wish I could tell you, but they haven’t told me anything yet! I guess we will find out at the award ceremony!’
Why did you decide to enrol in the Research Master programme?
‘I completed my undergraduate studies at Bilkent University in Turkey. I studied management there, majoring in marketing and innovation, with a minor in psychology. Already then, I developed a strong interest in academia and behavioural studies. This became apparent to my professors and so they allowed me to join several research groups and work as a research assistant. After I graduated, I was granted scholarships to pursue a master’s degree. However, I preferred to follow a research master programme, since it would better prepare me for a PhD programme.’
And, did it live up to your expectations?
‘Absolutely, I learned a great deal. Throughout my degree here, I learned how to develop theoretical frameworks, design experiments, to form hypotheses, to effectively analyse data and to write insightful scientific reports. I also had the chance to follow doctorate-level courses with first and second year PhD candidates from various departments, which helped me to see what they experience. I really got great spoilers, so to speak, which helped me to make sure this academic career is really what I want.
‘I was fortunate in that my professors always encouraged me to keep asking questions. Whenever I read an article, I was told to question it first; from its methods to the reliability of the scales used. I also learned to question my own work, which helped me to anticipate the questions I would get during a research seminar and to design better experiments. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned is that it’s good not to get too comfortable with your own work. If you’re too comfortable, you take statements and findings for granted and you don’t learn or discover.’
Would you recommend this programme to other students?
‘I have been promoting the programme over the past year as a member of the Research Master council so it’s not really a fair question! However, I genuinely believe that this programme was one of the most difficult but also most fruitful periods of my life.
'Coming from a management department as a bachelor graduate, I thought I possessed enough knowledge about my specialisation. However, when I joined the Research Master programme I was like a fish out of water! Taking classes with doctoral students right after completing my undergraduate, I started seeing the things I thought I understood fully in a completely different light. My professors always tried to make me step out of my comfort zone by challenging me to take courses I knew less about. Whenever I felt comfortable with a certain literature or a method, they showed me that it is always possible to discover new perspectives even on the very same topic.
‘In short, this programme taught me that learning is endless and there is always something to learn from failure. I also really recommend this programme because I believe that it is very valuable to help find out if this career path is for you.’
Despite offers from other (international) universities, you have chosen to do research at Rotterdam School of Management after you graduate. Why?
‘There are many reasons! We have a very productive, motivated, and energetic marketing department here at RSM, where everyone strives to contribute to science and consumer well-being. I am certainly glad to be part of this community and look forward to contributing more. The Rotterdam School of Management also offers great opportunities when it comes to research. For instance, we have one of the best behavioural labs in the world!
‘As a young researcher in an international environment, I am also a strong believer in international academic collaboration and its importance to broaden a scholar’s mind-set. Our faculty has a strong network which includes many eminent scholars. Over the past year, I have been in touch with many scholars outside of RSM and I hope to continue collaborating with them. Therefore, I should note that I don’t feel like I rejected other universities by choosing RSM.’
Can you tell us a little bit about your research topic?
‘For a long time, the mind was seen as an engine that powers the body. Now we know that the relationship between mind and body is more complex than that. In several projects, we investigate the effects of clothing on consumer judgment and decision making. We have been testing a few hypotheses so far and though it is a work in progress, we believe that our projects have powerful implications for consumer well-being. We’re very excited about the possibilities!’
Do you have any last advice to other students?
‘I feel very passionate about what I do, and it doesn’t even feel like I’m going to work every morning. My humble advice to other students is to find something you are passionately curious about, and to be willing to stretch your comfort zone once you excel at it.’
The Professor G. W. J. Bruins Prize is intended for research master students who excel in terms of their academic performance and research qualities.