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Turanay Caner, Ph.D.

With NSF Grant, Professor Studies Value of Multidisciplinary Research

September 1, 2015, was a red-letter-day for Turanay Caner, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Management. Not only did it mark the beginning of her tenure at The Peter J. Tobin College of Business (TCB) at St. John’s University, but it was also the day her National Science Foundation (NSF) grant took effect. “St. John’s brought me good luck,” she said.

Prior to joining the University, Caner was teaching at North Carolina State University. It was there that she became involved with the NSF project, funded by a $300,000 grant allocated among researchers at three universities. The other two grantees are Melissa Appleyard, Ph.D., of Portland State, and Beverly Tyler, Ph.D., of North Carolina State. A fourth collaborator, Griffin Weber, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, serves as a consultant to the team.

Tracking the relationship between multidisciplinary alliances and innovative ideas, Caner applies her experience in knowledge diversity research—how using expertise from different scientific domains can enhance the value of research and development. For the NSF study, she and her colleagues are reviewing research conducted since 2005 by scientists from a variety of disciplines at the National Institutes of Health’s Nanomedicine Development Centers, part of an effort to better understand cell function on the molecular level and to apply  this knowledge in treating diseases and damaged tissue.     

At St. John’s, Caner continues to work on the grant with the help of Ewelina Czajkowska ’17MBA. “This is the first time I have had a chance to take part in a project like this,” said Czajkowska. “It’s sharpened my data analytic skills, but the most exciting thing about working with Dr. Caner is learning  about nanotechnology and its potential to help scientists to make breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of disease.”    

The opportunity to work at a university that encourages faculty to share their knowledge and experience with students is one reason that Caner came to St. John’s. “When I was being interviewed, I was struck by how student-centered the University is,” she said. She was especially impressed by the institution’s commitment to preparing graduates for future success—exemplified by initiatives like the Tobin College’s Executive-in-Residence Program, which allows students to enhance their résumés through hands-on consulting experience at actual companies.

She also felt that St. John’s focus on community service matched her own belief in making a difference. Caner now volunteers at a local community center, mentoring children under the age of 14. In addition, in the short time she has been here, she has already participated in new student orientation meetings and advised students preparing for business case competitions.    

Caner earned her undergraduate degree in business management in Turkey, where she was raised. Seeking a career that would combine her interest in the health sector with her passion for management theory, she decided to pursue her graduate-level education in the United States. She received her MBA from Providence College, RI, and her Ph.D. in strategic management from the University of Pittsburgh.

Before committing to an academic career, Caner held various positions in manufacturing financial services as well as business consulting, both here and in Turkey. “However,” she said, “I decided my real calling was in academia, doing scholarly research, teaching, and inspiring students, as my parents inspired me.”