Language Open Translation Project

Meet Ayse Seda Demirel, TED volunteer translator

Posted by: Jenny Zurawell


Tell us about yourself.

My name is Ayse Seda Demirel and I was born in Izmir, located on the western shore of Turkey. I am the youngest of three daughters (by 13 years), and due to my mother’s devotion for her last child, she wouldn’t let me go to primary school until the age of 8.

I attended a private secondary school taught in English, and graduated from Ege University as a MD in 1997. I returned to Ege University in 2006 for my PhD in medical parasitology. In my 3rd year, my professor assigned my research and thesis topic (based more upon his interest than my own) as the serological diagnosis of Strongyloides stercoralis infections — or in simpler terms, studying blood serum to identify antibodies formed in response to this parasitic infection.

However, my real interest lied in Plasmodium immunology (malaria), particularly the subjects of cerebral malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum infections, Toll-like receptors, translational genes, single-nucleotide polymorphisms and adaptation. The divide between my interests and my thesis assignment was hard to handle, so very recently I took a huge step and quit my PhD in the 4th year.


What drew you to TED?

Well, I enjoy and find peace in Eastern philosophy, especially the works of Rumi on Sufism, Omar Khayyam and Krishnamurti. Their unique perception of the universe fascinates me, and they create paradox images in my mind that go beyond the ordinary. It’s so alluring. I felt the same effect after watching my first TEDTalk, “Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight,” so I jumped directly into TED and the Open Translation Project without hesitation.


Why do you translate?

I translate for those seeking an opportunity to face the power they already have inside. I love being a part of this huge collaboration of science, technology and compassion with many people all around the world. This gives me hope and ambition to work harder. TED is having a huge impact on my life.

When I shared Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk on Facebook, a friend of mine commented, “Now I get why my dad had those strange shifting delusions when he had the stroke.” I love learning and sharing new ideas, so in some sense, I have to translate. Also there’s always someone there to update you and illuminate different points of view in the comments below talks (Hi Colleen and Kurgan!). I am meeting new people all the time and getting richer and richer in knowledge with each talk I translate.


What are you favorite talks? Why?

The day I quit my PhD, Gary Vaynerchuk was on saying, “Do what you love, no excuses!” Determined to study malaria immunology, a few weeks later I packed by bags for Japan, destined for the Frontier Research Center’s malaria immunology lab at Osaka University. Now, in the words of Srikumar Rao, I am plugged into my hard-wired happiness while focusing on the process!

Many of my other favorite talks combine neuroscience and Eastern philosophy: Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight, Henry Markram builds a brain in a supercomputer and VS Ramachandran’s talks on the neurons that shaped civilization and on your mind.

I also love Bill Gates on mosquitos, malaria and education, as well as talks by Barry Schwartz, Hans Rosling, Raghava KK and Temple Grandin.

Comments (16)

  • Pingback: Rencontre avec Ayşe Seda Demirel | Traduction,culture et recherche

  • Terry Eskenazi commented on Nov 27 2011

    Ayşe merhaba, biz İstanbul’da bir lisede öğretmenleriz ve TED talks’larla besleniyoruz. İstanbul’da bir konferans veya etkinlik yapmayı düşünüyor musunuz? Hem size yardımcı olabilir hem de öğrencilerimizle kalabalık getirebiliriz.

  • alex Des commented on Oct 20 2010

    Merhaba wonderlady Ayse & konnichiwa to you,
    O’Genki des ka? Having read many of your comments, I’d absolutely love to meet you! In addition to being in Kansai (for my love of Nippon), we seem to have shared interest, ie Sufism, Rumi, Hlth Sciences & Turkey, among others. I hope we can connect, plz drop me an Email intldes at yahoo dot com
    Bests, -Des :)

  • k k commented on Oct 10 2010

    Hi Ayse, your personality as what comes thru your bio is refreshing…i shall consider volunteering for TED transcripts, since i found your sharing quite inspiring…i’ve never thought of this possibility earlier – so, thanks for this…wishing u happiness, success and peace. And thinking of the beauty of Japan and it’s people brings a smile to my heart.

  • Dorota Lopez commented on Sep 3 2010

    I enjoyed reading your bio. I love the way TED is a spider web that connects interesting people and topics – Cheers

  • Raghava KK commented on Jun 29 2010

    Dear Ayse, Thank you soooo much! Really honored! Cheers!

    • Ay?e Seda Demirel commented on Jul 21 2010

      Hi dear Raghava :)) Feels sooo nice to have you on my blog :D
      Thank you, it was my pleasure ;)

  • Michele Gianella commented on May 20 2010

    Very inspiring interview :)
    Congratulations, Ay?e!

  • Colleen Steen commented on May 18 2010

    You are a beautiful being, and I’m glad you’re here on this earth school:>)
    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your upcoming adventures:>)

    • Ay?e Seda Demirel commented on May 19 2010

      And I am so glad to come across to you Colleen on this earth school along with many :)

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on May 18 2010

    I really enjoyed reading and re-reading your entry…that’s really amazing… I took a long time “20 minutes” meditating in this phrase”Do what you love, no excuses!” after watching that talk… I don’t know what to say, but I think this talk may give a clue: Bill Davenhall: Your health depends on where you live :)
    Really glad to meet you through OTP…wish to meet you in person if you cross the East Sea to S.Korea :)
    All the best.

    • Ay?e Seda Demirel commented on May 18 2010

      Thank you Anour!!
      For your friendly, positive attitude and great personality shining on most of your comments.
      I am sure we’ll come across someday, somehow :)
      P.S: I also loved your daughter’s shiny eyes and huge smile so much!!! Ma?allah :)))

  • Ay?e Seda Demirel commented on May 18 2010

    Thank You Sebastian, same here ;)

  • Sebastian Betti commented on May 17 2010

    Meeting new people –like you– all the time, getting richer and richer in knowledge with each translated talk. I can relate to every word of yours.

  • Ayşe Seda Demirel commented on Aug 7 2010