Yalcin (EE ’73) and Serpil Ayasli

by Elizabeth Chadis, MaryGlenn Vincens and Erin McGrath // MIT Physics Annual 2008

Serpil & Yalcin Ayasli
Serpil & Yalcin (EE ’73) Ayasli

The airy conference room in the new Center for Theoretical Physics (CTP) is named in honor of Dr. Serpil Ayasli, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Physics Department, and the wife of alumnus Dr. Yalcin Ayasli. “I thought it would make a very nice anniversary gift,” Yalcin said.

The couple’s fond memories of the Department during Serpil’s time in the CTP helped shape their decision to support Physics with a naming gift to the Green Center building project.

To Serpil, theirs is a family gift to MIT: “We are, after all, an MIT family.” Not only was Serpil a postdoc (1979–82), but Yalcin earned his PhD from MIT in Electrical Engineering, and one of their three children, daughter Ceylan, earned an S.B. in Economics in 2000.

A surprise dividend to their gift was the discovery that the Serpil Ayasli Conference Room is located in virtually the same place on the third floor of Building 6 as Serpil’s first lab. Serpil wrote at this time (with Prof. Paul Joss) what turned out to be a important 1982 theoretical paper on the modeling of thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars. Cited nearly 150 times in the literature, it’s a paper that many groups, such as Prof. Deepto Chakrabarty’s, have cited numerous times in their X-ray observational work on neutron stars.

The Drs. Ayasli are originally from Turkey. Yalcin came to the United States to attend graduate school, returning to Turkey to teach. In 1979, he and Serpil came back to the United States together. Yalcin founded and headed Hittite Microwave, a company that develops and markets microwave technologies. Serpil worked for 23 years at Lincoln Laboratory and was an associate group leader when she retired in 2005. During her career there, she served on MIT’s Council on Family and Work.

Yalcin has become a regular at the physics alumni breakfast events, enjoying in particular those featuring astrophysics.