İlkay Salihoğlu was born in a small village, Pelathousa (later named as Karaağaç), located in Paphos District in 1945. After completing his elementary and secondary school education in local schools he went to Lefkoşa Türk Erkek Lisesi for his high school education. In 1963 Salihoğlu graduated from this school and registered at Middle East Technical University (METU) located in Ankara, Turkey for his undergraduate education. Because of the political conflicts in Cyprus, Salihoğlu suspended his university education for two years and voluntarily joined the military in Cyprus. Following his military service, in 1969 he graduated from the METU Department of Chemistry with a BSc degree.
İ.Salihoğlu continued his graduate education at the METU Department of Chemistry and he was awarded his PhD in 1976. In the early 1970s, awareness of environmental issues accelerated in almost all countries including Turkey. Among those which drew his attention was the study of Marine Sciences and Oceanography. As a result, Salihoğlu 1977 joined the recently established Marine Sciences Department of METU. His education and basic and applied research activity from that point on was in the area of ocean sciences with a special emphasis on marine environmental aspects. Dr.Salihoğlu has over two hundred publications on the subject of ocean sciences where a substantial number have been published in refereed respectable international journals.
Besides his academic activities, Salihoğlu carried out administrative jobs and actively participated in international and intergovernmental programmes. This included consultancy for the Food and Agricultural Organization of theUnited Nations (FAO/UN), Turkish Technical Principal Investigator of UNEP MED-POL programme, Turkish Delegation member of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and Executive Committee member of Turkey of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, PI of NATO SfP Black Sea Project, and Secretary of Black Sea GOOS Programme etc. Dr.Salihoğlu was an active executive committee member of the Strategic Educational and Research Center of the Higher Educational Board of Turkey also.
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Since June 2003, Dr.İlkay Salihoğlu has been a full-time teaching member of Near East University, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Director of the Institute of Basic and Applied Sciences.