Emine Akgun literally wears the passion for her research area on her sleeve. A lover of all things logistics, she shares more on the components of her research that makes her tick.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current research and what it entails?
My research topic focuses on urban freight transport, which deals with goods distribution and logistics within cities. Specifically, I am working on how the use of supportive freight policies can make consolidation centres more feasible and more attractive for transport operators and shippers.
Why do you love your research area?
Logistics, which involves urban freight transportation too, is a vibrant topic. It has connections with many other aspects in this contemporary world such as manufacturing, technology, finance and politics. Therefore, changes happening in these areas will affect logistics in many ways, both positively and negatively. This enables researchers like me to explore new topics and produce more research projects in the area of logistics. I enjoy this dynamism within logistics research.
How did your passion for your research area develop?
It started when I was working as an assistant to the lecturers during my undergraduate studies. I was helping them to organise their lectures on a weekly basis. I was indecisive about whether to step into the world of industry or stay in academia. I had a chance to do my internships in different freight forwarding companies and in a manufacturing plant, which helped me to clear my mind about my career choice. Later I started to get involved in research studies with the senior lecturers that I was assisting; I started to collect data and worked together with them for some articles, which were published in a journal and presented in conferences. I was also involved in doing research with some of the lecturers who taught me during my master studies and all these efforts lead me to decide on having a career in academia. However, I never lost my interest in working in a setting which involved university-private sector and university-public sector collaborations; I still collect my data via case studies which I organise with various organization from public and private sectors.
Apart from your doctorate, what do you hope to achieve with your research?
Freight transportation has been elaborated in a limited way in the context of cities especially on local authority level. However, there are plenty of successful projects all around the world, particularly in Europe. I would like to contribute in accumulating knowledge and understanding of urban freight transport in Scotland. As the country keeps growing, urbanisation and freight transport in parallel will continue to grow and it’s important to understand what benefits can be obtained with regards to contribution of freight transportation to economy of Scotland as well as what problems can be encountered and how public sector and private sector should react upon problems and changing trends of urban freight transport.
Explain your educational background so far?
I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Logistics Management from Izmir University of Economics in Izmir/Turkey. Later I moved to Sweden in order to study for a Masters degree. I studied at Jonkoping University for two years to get my Masters in International Logistics and Supply Chain Management. And now here I am and getting closer to the half way in my PhD study.
Why did you choose Edinburgh Napier as your place of study?
Since my undergraduate studies I am interested in transportation aspects of logistics; I have written both of my undergraduate and masters thesis on road freight transportation but in different contexts. When I was looking for a PhD position in Scotland, I came across the Transport Research Institute, which is the largest and longest established transport research group in Scotland and found out that there are well-known academics who are working on the same subjects as I am interested in working within. Overall, Edinburgh Napier provides a comfortable and a structured environment for its research degree students. It’s structured because there are many milestones identified that a PhD student needs to meet along the way. Supervisors, the School of Engineering and Built Environment and the University support their students while they pass through various stages during their studies and they emphasise the importance of collaborative work between students, supervisors as well as the university, which is one of the most essential aspect of training new researchers.
What would you say to anyone thinking about undertaking a PhD research project?
Doing PhD is a very challenging task. Once a friend of mine, who was also undertaking a PhD study, told me that doing a PhD isn’t a job that you work from 9am in the morning till 5pm in the evening but it’s a life style that you relate with every aspect of your life. I completely agree with this statement. In my opinion PhD requires team work; you need other people around you to complete many tasks but at the end of the day, you are the only one who is in charge of every small detail in your work and this requires a lot of dedication as well as effort. It is very rewarding to see yourself producing tangible value in the form of projects and articles and keeping up with many deadlines. To any potential PhD candidates, I would say that it is crucial to find a good institution to work within; one which will support you in both education and administration related tasks and that provide good mentors who value training young researchers. It is also essential to find a topic that you think will still be interesting when you come to graduating from your PhD study.