In the Aftermath of the Earthquake and Preparing for the Next One

In the Aftermath of the Earthquake and Preparing for the Next OneHere are the projects and support programs currently being implemented or planned at Koç University.

Search & Rescue and Support

  • On February 9, a team of 6 people from Koç University Search and Rescue (KUAK), which was established in 2015, conducted search and rescue activities in the İskenderun region.
  • Dr. Coşkun Yorulmaz, along with Assist. Prof. Arda Akay and Assoc. Prof. Laçin Lal Çakır from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the School of Medicine performed forensic identification and autopsy procedures at the mass grave site in Narlıca, Antakya. Their activities included identifying the remains, collecting DNA samples, encoding, and creating a DNA bank, as well as conducting autopsies when necessary.
  • The Dean of Students Officeis collaborating with the Red Crescent European Region Blood Center to organize a blood donation campaign scheduled to take place on May 2.
  • The ‘Book+Toy Campaign’ project, which is being organized by Koç Ailem, Koç Holding, the Dean of Students Clubs/Volunteer Projects Office, and the Directorate of Business Administration, is ongoing.
  • The ‘trauma support’ activities initiated by the Koç University Counceling Service (KURES) team are ongoing.
  • KuGather, a program initiated by the (Academic and Life Skills) ALIS Office, offers campus meetings, diverse workshops, outdoor excursions, and cultural and arts activities such as theater performances, concerts, and forest walks.
  • The project ‘Test Book Support for Students Affected by Disasters’ for the upcoming Higher Education Institutions Exam (YKS), which is a collaboration between the Dean of Students Clubs/Volunteer Projects Office and the Dean’s Offices, is ongoing. The Dean of Students Office is responsible for collecting and providing logistical support for the books.
  • The Dean of Students Office, ALIS, and the Clubs/Volunteer Projects Offices in collaboration with Prof. Sami Gülgöz from the Department of Psychology, are organizing a project to provide tutoring for students affected by the disaster who are preparing for the YKS and LGS exams.
  • The Career Development Center Directorate of the Dean of Students Office, in collaboration with Koç Holding, is continuing its internship program to provide opportunities for students affected by the earthquake.
  • Ekin Çakır, our PhD student at the Trauma & Stress Research Laboratory, along with Assoc. Prof. Ceren Acartürk, provided five psycho-training sessions on the ‘Psychological Effects of the Earthquake.’ One session was conducted for academic staff, one for administrative staff, and three for students. In addition, our PhD student Ayşenur Coşkun Toker conducted a half-day workshop on Psychological First Aid in collaboration with our master’s student Asude Uç
  • Our PhD student Büşra Acar from the Graduate School of Social Sciences and Humanities led the training self-help program, ‘Doing What Matters in Times of Stress’ developed by the World Health Organization for practitioners from our psychology graduates and clinical psychology program students who wish to support KURES.
  • In February and March, Assoc. Prof. Ceren Acartürk and Ekin Çakır collaborated with the Trauma and Disaster Mental Health Studies Association to conduct household visits to people affected by the earthquake disaster in Hatay. They established psychosocial support centers in various temporary shelter areas, conducted needs analyses, and provided psychological first aid and psychosocial interventions to those affected. Additionally, support sessions were organized for health teams working in the region, and group workshops based on psychological first aid, psychoeducation, and physical exercises were conducted with various earthquake-affected groups.
  • A session was organized for Delft Technical University students working on providing shelter provisions to those affected by the earthquake. The session covered topics such as the earthquake in Turkey, post-earthquake psychological effects, and field observations.
  • The School of Nursing will conduct a physical and psychosocial needs and situational analysis to help planinterventions for earthquake victims residing in the Koç Holding Container City.
  • The School of Nursing is currently undertaking a project focused on the impact of therapeutic play-based hygiene and sleep activities on sleep disorders and hygiene behaviors among children residing in earthquake-affected areas.
  • The School of Nursing is currently preparing a project to evaluate the impact of first aid training, which will be delivered to school-age children living in the earthquake zone using games and interactive methods, on their coping skills during emergencies and their level of knowledge.
  • National Working Group- TR- Humanitarian and Health Operations and Sustainability-TR-HOPES) was established with the participation of many researchers working in the fields of humanitarian and health operations from abroad as well as Koç University Faculty Members. The group gained an interdisciplinary character after the Kahramanmaraş earthquake and is now comprised of approximately 50-55 researchers from fields such as industrial engineering, operational management, simulation, public health, economics, health sciences, and medicine.
  • The participation of faculty members from the infectious diseases and public health fields facilitated a review of infectious diseases that have epidemic potential in the earthquake region. Under the supervision of Prof. Önder Ergönül, a member of the School of Medicine and Director of the Koç University Research Center for Infectious Diseases (KUISCID), an article on this topic has been prepared for publication in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
  • Infectious disease specialists in the area, as well as the Turkish Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (KLIMIK) earthquake coordination committee, are closely monitoring developments in the earthquake zone. Currently, Prof. Önder Ergönül serves as a member of the KLIMIK Society’s Board of Directors and sits on the earthquake coordination committee.
  • KUISCID, located at Koç University, has taken steps to prepare for potential epidemics and infections in the area in collaboration with VKV Healthcare Institutions.
  • The Sevgi Gönül Cultural Center has planned the following events to facilitate the healing process after the earthquake and utilize art to promote this process:
    • ‘Connecting with Ourselves through Expressive Arts – Nonviolent Communication’ with Aylin Vartanyan Dilaver in collaboration with ALIS.
    • ‘Expressive Art Therapy Workshop: Poiesis Discovery in a Space’ with Şeyma Çavuşoğlu in collaboration with ALIS.
    • ‘Baroque Laments concert’ with countertenor Kaan Buldular and archlutist Hande Cangökçe.

Coordination, Improvement, and Development

  • The UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development, in collaboration with the Law School, is currently planning an event entitled ‘Disaster Management, Law, and Gender-Based Inequalities.’
  • The College of Administrative Sciences and Economics is collaborating with Koç Holding Container City to implement two projects: the Continuing Education and Vocational Training Project and the Reporting, Research, and Data Collection Project.
  • Sibel Salman from the Department of Industrial Engineering has been appointed as the coordinator of the logistics group under the AFAD General Directorate of Earthquake and Risk Mitigation. The group will be responsible for temporary shelter, including planning the material and service supplies for the container cities. It will also monitor large population movements nationwide and make settlement plans for these new cities. The team will use mathematical models and algorithms to determine the needs and goals accurately, enabling them to make informed decisions.
  • Prof. Erdal Aydın from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is working on the ‘Meeting Emergency Electricity Needs after Disasters using Decentralized Mobile (Renewable) Energy Systems with Stochastic Programming’ project.
  • Prof. Barış Yıldız from the Department of Industrial Engineering is working on the following projects listed below:
    • Post-disaster emergency road traffic management
    • Post-disaster aid-in-kind collection and distribution optimization
    • Optimization of search and rescue teams allocation
    • Post-disaster mobile phone call/data transfer prioritization
    • Drone routing for damage assessment and critical material transportation
  • Prof. Didem Onat from the Department of Computer Engineering is working on the ‘High-resolution earthquake modeling and simulation of the Marmara Region using CFD for ground motion prediction and hazard mapping’ project.
  • Prof. Mehmet Cengiz Onbaşlı from the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering is working on the ‘Human tracking and routing under urban demolition and debris using UAVs for day and night operations’ project.
  • Prof. Barış Akgün from the Department of Computer Engineering is currently working on projects focusing on ‘Post-earthquake damage/impact distribution estimation’ and ‘Resource allocation and post-disaster applications utilizing reinforcement learning in stochastic environments.
  • Kerem Pekkan from the Department of Mechanical Engineering is working on a project that uses ‘building-specific computational structural mechanics simulations’ to determine the location of victims and guide excavation works in post-earthquake rescue operations.
  • Prof. Levent Beker from the Department of Mechanical Engineering is working on a project which ‘collects precursor signals from fault lines before earthquakes occur in order to develop an effective warning system.’
  • On April 10, a meeting will be held with the participation of Prof. Coşkun Yorulmaz from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the School of Medicine and forensic medicine to share the experiences of experts working in the earthquake zone and develop an effective protocol to prevent a similar situation occurring in the future if a large earthquake impacts İstanbul.
  • On April 13, Assist. Prof. Dr. Murat Önok from the Law School and Prof. Coşkun Yorulmaz from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the School of Medicine will hold a meeting with the Union of Bar Associations in Ankara to discuss potential collaboration between lawyers and forensic scientists in the event of earthquakes or disasters.
  • KARMA Lab has recently launched the February 6 Memory project, which aims to preserve the collective grief and losses we experienced as a society starting from February 6, 2023, with a platform that is accessible to everyone. The project’s portal serves as a means to transfer these experiences to future generations.
  • KARMA Lab is currently developing, an online platform designed to facilitate civic engagement and promote solidarity by enabling anyone willing to contribute. The platform’s primary objective is to increase the visibility of the needs, active NGOs, and ongoing projects in the earthquake zone and to coordinate them more effectively.
  • Within the scope of the TÜBİTAK BİÇABA Program, several projects are planned to be implemented with students affected by the earthquake, including:
    • ‘Determination of the 3-Dimensional Crystal Structure of the Isg15 Adding Hect-Type E3 Enzyme Herc5 and Determination of the Binding Site with the E2 Enzyme Ubch8 by NMR Spectroscopy’ by N2STAR (Koç University Nanofabrication and Nanocharacterization Center for Scientific and Technological Advanced Research).
    • ‘Foreign Students in Turkish Higher Education: Structure, Institution and Actor Interactions in Policy Making Processes’ by MiReKoÇ (Migration Research Center at Koç University).
    • ‘Development of Advanced Holographic Display Technology and Augmented Reality Applications (HOLOAGES) Project’ by Prof. Hakan Ürey from the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
    • ‘Elucidation of Tumor Progression and Drug Resistance Mechanisms by Using Molecular Traces of Cancer in Dynamic Network Modeling’ project by Assoc. Prof. Nurcan Tunçbağ from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the School of Medicine.
    • Director of the Koç University Boron and Advanced Materials Application and Research Center (KUBAM), Assist. Prof. Dr. Umut Aydemir, is currently working on two projects. The first project is focused on the ‘Development of Micro/Nano Complex Metal Oxides and Composites with Zero or Negative Thermal Expansion for Industrial Applications.’ The second project is centered on the ‘Production and Development of High-Efficiency Thermoelectric Ternary Phosphides Using Band Transport Modeling and High Throughput Calculations for Space Research and Automotive Applications.’
    • 1001 Project by Prof. Seda Keskin Avcı from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering aims to reveal the potential of porous materials for purifying natural gas using molecular simulations and machine learning.
    • Support will be provided to six students from Gaziantep, Adana, Hatay, and Kahramanmaraş to conduct research in the Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics departments.
    • As a result of damage at İnönü University, a graduate student who is working on a TÜBİTAK project led by Prof. Levent Demirel in the Department of Chemistry will be joining us at Koç University to complete their studies.

Impact Assessment

  • Koç University Social Impact Forum (KUSIF) is a founding Turkey Social Entrepreneurship Network (TSGA) member. Every 15 days, KUSIF organizes Social Enterprise Support Organizations Coordination Meetings, which bring together institutions that support social entrepreneurship in Turkey. The meetings aim to facilitate collaboration among these institutions, particularly in the aftermath of disasters.
  • Kamil Yılmaz from the College of Administrative Sciences and Economics presented his paper titled ‘The Economic Impact of the Kahramanmaraş Earthquakes on February 6, 2023’ at the Science Academy’s ‘Preparing for Earthquakes, Healing Wounds with Science: Disaster Management, Health, and Economy’ panel on March 15, at the Second Century Economic Congress organized by İzmir Municipality on March 18, and at Bilgi University’s Sustainable Development Seminar series on March 29.
  • Selva Demiralp from the College of Administrative Sciences and Economics prepared two articles on the impacts of the earthquake on wealth accumulation and economic growth, which will be published by BBC Türkçe and the Istanbul Political Research Institute (İstanPol).

Earthquake Preparedness and Disaster Management Actions / February 22, 2023
Dear Members of the Koç University Community, We are all deeply saddened by the enormous devastation caused by a series of severe earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş. All our thoughts continue to be with the millions of affected people in the region, including those who are among our own Koç University Community. This disaster has once again showed us the importance of earthquake preparedness, and we would like to inform you about the resistance status of our campus buildings against an earthquake and other efforts for disaster management at our university. As per the Turkish Earthquake Code, issued according to Article 3 of the Law 7269 on Precautions and Relief Efforts for Disasters That Affect Public Life, and Articles 12 and 17 of the Law 5902 on the Establishment and Duties of the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, and effective as of January 1, 2019, earthquake code compliance assessment on all buildings owned by Koç University and/or used under rental/allocation agreements began in March 2020, and was completed as of September 30, 2022. As a part of this assessment, a total of 89 buildings have undergone compliance evaluation, including: 69 in Rumelifeneri Campus 7 in West Campus 6 in İstinye Campus 3 ANAMED buildings Taş Mektep VEKAM AKMED The Ottoman Summer School in Ayvalık and 9 buildings were found to require reinforcement. The Henry Ford Dormitory Building, the College of Administrative Sciences and Economics, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, College of Sciences, and Student Center buildings in the Rumelifeneri Campus, and blocks F, G and H and the Gym in the İstinye Campus were found to require reinforcement, and this work was completed during the 2022 summer period, where all buildings used by Koç University adhered to the latest earthquake code. In addition to the safety of our buildings, an Emergency Operations Task Force was established in 2020 comprised of academic and senior administrative staff focused on coordinating the actions and response of the university to possible emergency and disaster circumstances. An Emergency Management Plan was issued to help the task force provide guidance and coordination in possible disasters and emergencies, and a slew of necessary actions were taken. Additionally, Evacuation Plans for all college, administrative and dormitory buildings were issued in 2022. The details regarding our measures and precautions for possible emergencies are as follows: An “Emergency and Disaster Management Center” is set up next to the ice-skating rink, equipped with modern facilities, to be utilized by the Emergency Operations Task Force. Four disaster containers are available in the Rumelifeneri and West Campuses. With aftershocks and possible damage to buildings in mind, four large field tents and four first aid tents are available for temporary accommodation should there be an earthquake. The ice-skating rink is also planned to be used for this purpose if required. Seismic sensors and public announcement systems activated by these sensors have been installed in our college, administrative and dormitory buildings. With low-magnitude earthquakes in mind, “earthquake buttons” which disable the turnstiles and card entrance systems have been installed in four locations in each of our dormitory buildings. This enables the occupants of the buildings to evacuate swiftly and assemble at the designated assembly areas in low-magnitude earthquakes as well. Against a possible loss of internet connection, satellite internet facilities are set up at four locations in the Rumelifeneri and West Campuses. 223 members of our university received a full-day theoretical and applied Emergency and Disaster Support Team training, and 55 people have been issued certified first aid identity cards. In the following days, Emergency and Disaster Support Team Training, Emergency Awareness Training, First Aid Training and Disaster and Emergency Drills will be held. Koç University Search and Rescue Team (KUAK) has undergone a reorganization, and as the team grows, they are to also receive extra training and equipment. Our Security and Fire Brigade teams and our Health Centers at the Rumelifeneri and West Campuses are on duty 24/7 throughout the week to ensure campus security, respond to possible fires, and provide health assistance. Koç University Counseling Service (KURES) and Koç University Psychological Counseling and Psychotherapy Center (KUPTEM) are ready with their professional teams to respond to any possible situation where psychological support may be required after possible disasters. Please click here to access the maps showing the assembly areas to be used in emergencies on our campuses, and the locations of the Emergency and Disaster Management Center and the disaster containers. Please bear in mind that our present and future efforts continue to focus on ensuring the health and safety of our community of students, faculty, and staff. With regards, Office of the General Secretary
Message from the Office of the President / February 9, 2023
Dear Members of the Koç University Community, We are all deeply saddened by the enormous devastation caused by successive massive earthquakes this past Monday. Unfortunately, the unfolding news since then has only showed a worsening situation in the region. As we ask for blessings of the All Mighty God for the souls of those who lost their lives and our utmost and deep felt condolences to their families, loved ones and our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured, all our thoughts continue to be with the millions of affected people in the region, including those who are among our own Koç University Community. Unfortunate news continues to come about lost relatives and friends and we cannot find words to express our sorrow in this time of unspeakable grief. It will at least be some consolation for you to know that Office of the Dean of Students has reached 783 students residing in the affected areas including neighboring countries, and a majority has been accounted safe including international students. We continue to closely follow up on their health, general condition and needs in cooperation with Koç Group and all related public and government authorities. We also have safely accounted for 87 members of our faculty and staff who are in the affected region. Here is a run down of what we have done so far: We have activated our emergency operations task force focused on coordinating our efforts to support earthquake relief activities in collaboration with Koç Group and all related public and government authorities. Our earthquake relief efforts had a substantial kick-off thanks to our very hard working students and members of our staff with materials collected in hundreds of boxes and the first truck left for Hatay yesterday morning. Updates are to be sent periodically, as these efforts continue for the immediate future. A team of 15 of our medical staff from our Koç University Hospital has been deployed to the region with medical equipment and there are currently earthquake victims under treatment at our hospital. Our Research and Rescue team (KUAK) went to Iskenderun where they were deployed to help earthquake rescue efforts. Our counseling and support team (KURES) is putting together a plan to help support our students. Details will be shared with you soon. Additionally, we have also met with the Red Crescent and, if necessary, setting up a blood donation stand for next week is still on our agenda. We would like to thank all our students and members of our community who have been extremely helpful in our collective efforts and also all of you for your support. Once again we wish a fast recovery to all of Turkey, especially to our affected provinces. With our best wishes and regards, OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
Earthquake Relief Efforts / February 7, 2023
Dear Members of the Koç University Community, Our earthquake relief efforts continue with the help from our students and members of our staff. Our students and members of our staff will be ready at 09:00 at the collection points, Student Center -1 Floor in Rumelifeneri Campus and A4 Building on West Campus -1 Floor, both today (Friday, February 10). Please be advised that the materials you will deliver should be unused and/or new and, if used, they must be in top clean condition, washed, ironed and folded. In addition, in order not to complicate the work of the teams who will compile these materials, we kindly ask you not to bring materials that are not on the list below.

The materials currently needed in the earthquake region are  now prioritizedand listed below



Hygiene set
(wet wipes, liquid soap, toilet paper, towel paper, towel)

Feminine hygiene kit

Food parcel

Dry food

Diapers, baby food, feeding bottles


Candle, lighter, matches

Sleeping bag

Winter tent


Battery (AA)

Pocket warmer/heater

Linen set


Clothes (new/unused and/or in good condition)

Winter wear

Winter boots and coats

Baby clothes

Thermal underwear

Scarves, berets, gloves, socks

Cat, dog food

Home type generator