NC State Hosts International Scientist from Turkey

WRITTEN BY: Olivia Rogers (

Ekin Demiray is spending time away from his home country of Turkey this summer to continue his research on NC State’s campus. Demiray, who has a doctorate in biology, is a part of USDA-FAS Borlaug Fellowship Program. He will spend three months in Raleigh furthering his research on the wheat phenylalanine ammonia-lyase gene (TaPAL) family.

The USDA-FAS Borlaug Fellowship Program is a collaborative effort between NC State, USDA-FAS and other institutions. With this program, fellows arrive in Washington, DC to meet with USDA-FAS representatives. During this meeting, Borlaug Fellowship Program representatives introduce the fellow to their CALS faculty member and mentor. The fellow will spend three months at NC State to conduct research with their mentor. At the end of the program, the fellow will return to Washington, DC before departing for their home country. During this meeting, the fellow meets with USDA-FAS to discuss the research conducted at NC State. Later, the mentor visits the fellow’s institution in order to enhance long-term research collaboration. This program promotes the education and collaboration of scientists at an international level. 

Demiray says the goal of his research during this period is to “reduce lignin expression in wheat lines.” He explains that this research is a way to reduce the “pretreatment costs of lignocellulose” and produce cheaper biofuels.

Demiray says he spends most of his time in the lab working on plant cloning. He says, “I have also learned many novel things about bioinformatics, protein engineering and protein purification,” while conducting research. He says working with these concepts has always been “fascinating and fun.”

Demiray’s research consists of a step-by-step process that involves selecting highly expressed genes from the TaPAL gene family and cloning those desired genes. He says, “We are aiming to edit the promoter region of those TaPAL genes.”

When Demiray finishes his time here at NC State, he will host his mentor De-Yu Xie at Ankara University in Turkey.  Xie will meet Demiray’s colleagues and university administrators to discuss their research. They will visit several sites, and the USDA-FAS will arrange a meeting with the local Embassy to share the impacts of their research. This collaboration will help to strengthen the research of agricultural biotechnology in Turkey.