54.Former University of Yamanashi Student, Ms. Miho Aoyagi (continued)


This Month’s Cono Hana-san March Issue (Part 2) 

In “This Month’s Cono Hana-san” section, we will be introducing senior predecessors who have balanced various life events such as childbirth, child care, and long-term family care with their research activities, as well as their contribution as a role model for researchers.

In this issue we continue our interview with Ms. Miho Aoyagi., a former University of Yamanashi student who currently resides at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry as a member of the research staff. Ms. Aoyagi, whose “work mode” instantly clicks once she dons on her white robe, is someone who continues to widen her sphere of knowledge. “Dissimilar field” is a major keyword in understanding what kind of person she is.  

◎Ms. Miho Aoyagi’s Profile 2-1s

Alma Mater : University of Yamanashi Faculty of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Media Engineering (the antecedent of the current Department of Computer Science and Technology), Master’s and Doctor’s Course for the Interdisciplinary Education of Medical Engineering, majoring in Medical Science.
Professional Affiliation : Research Staff of the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Cooperative Staff of the University of Yamanashi, Faculty of Medicine Research Team.

・In our last issue, we talked about how you moved on to the Master’s Course in the Graduate School of Medical Science from the Faculty of Engineering. I understand you eventually moved on to the doctor’s course to earn a Ph.D.as well.  

Yes. I was at University of Yamanashi for a total of 9 years. For the 5 years during graduate school, I concentrated on basic research for diabetes. During my undergraduate years, I had no experience in practical training courses so in the beginning, I always seemed to be at lost when it came to laboratory experiments. I guess you can say I slowly learned the basics the hard way…just like my earlier days as a computer science major. . But when I first handled genes and hormones, something I had only read in text books up until then, I was very excited.  At the time, I resided in Internal Medicine which was a medical office that offered clinical practice.  While the doctors did carry out medical research, they also offered medical examinations for incoming patients during the daytime. So for a student, it was a rather unconventional environment. Whenever I accompanied my instructor/doctor carry out research or an experiment, it almost always started after 5:00p.m., after seeing the patients.  You can imagine how my hours naturally became inordinate.

・What kind of research do you practice presently?

 As of now I am in a research office for the nervous system, concentrating on research for cerebrovascular disorders. Although my base for research activities took a shift, my life still revolves around research and experiments. However, compared to my days as a graduate student, we are expected to come up with results in a much shorter time span, making the present environment tougher to deal with. Still, I feel fortunate to be leading a fruitful life as a researcher today, having being taught various research skills that are new to me and that of which I never experienced as a student in graduate school. Recently, I have been feeling a strong urge to conceive the knowledge and skills of various fields of studies that I cultivated during the past 10 years or so in a more comprehensive and collective manner. Don’t you think it would be an honor if eventually that kind of comprehensive competence becomes a beneficial mediation between “education” and “research?” I also like to obtain various certificates and qualifications, and as somewhat of a means to solidify what I’ve envisioned for the future, I’ve acquired over 30 different certificates! And you know what? I’m still counting!

・Over 30?!  (゚ロ゚;)Wow! That’s impressive!2-2s

It’s already pretty much in the realm of personal interest (ha ha ). The countless number of certificates and qualifications I’ve obtained so far, ranges from those related to life, biotechnology, and computer (what I specialized in during my school years) , to studies related to language and environmental issues. You would be surprised how knowledge and information I gained as simple trivia serves to be constructive in the most surprising situations!  The pleasure of learning about a wide range of issues and finding similarities among them is the core of my motivation for research activities, something I’ve been pursuing since graduate school.  And, the certificates I’ve acquired aren’t just to satisfy my own desires. I’m finding more and more opportunities where these qualifications can be put into practical use in my career. For instance, other than being a research staff, I’ve been hired as a part-time instructor at a vocational school for IT engineers. This is due to one of the computer-related certificates I obtained in the past.  Teaching someone actually helps me recognize some things that I didn’t notice before. Ironically, sometimes it is me, and not my students, who is in fact learning something new.  The job as an IT instructor has helped me relearn matters related to information processing. This opportunity has also provided me with an experience to use a practical method of teaching and answering questions at the learners’ level of knowledge.   Since information technology and biotechnology are both my specialties, I hope to be able to work on an interdisciplinary research field by putting my integrative knowledge to use.

・I can see that you are downright enjoying raising your amount of skill and experience! Would you mind giving some advice to your juniors at The University of Yamanashi and to those who are striving to be researchers like yourself?

As a person who had been studying with an ambitious drive ever since highschool, I can say that you should really study hard and push yourself to the limit, especially if you’re having a problem keeping up with the class. Classes shouldn’t be slowing down to match your pace of comprehension. Instead, you yourself should make the sheer effort to “match” or keep up with the speed of the class.  By doing so, you will enjoy studying in a true sense and understand the joy of learning. 

・Well said! “To “match” yourself with the speed of the class.”  That’s something that can’t be done unless you have the composure to do so, ability-wise. You certainly will understand the fun of learning if you thoroughly study with the volition to reach that realm of competency.

Exactly. However!! The best time to do that would probably be during your highschool years up till your second year in university.

・What? What do you mean? 2-3s

From my experience, absorption of applied knowledge is at best when you are in your early 20’s. It is in those years that the more you learn, the more you digest. It is only for a few years of your life when you have that kind of capacity so you should consider those few years to be extremely valuable.  I hope the students realize that and not waste such valuable time, but use it wisely instead.  How you spend those few years will certainly make a difference in the next step of your academic path.  Some students might consider themselves lucky to obtain past exams from their seniors to study simply for the purpose of passing an exam and gaining credits. But short-term studies like that won’t amount to anything. Before an exam, you should really make an effort to comprehend the context, even if you find it to be arduous work.  Gaining full understanding of a subject and expanding your knowledge will definitely be at your advantage on the long-run.  Obtaining knowledge that you find useful will eventually lead to your own happiness.

・OH! Such valuable words that can only be given by someone who actually had the experience! It’s clear that you truly love to study(^^) Thank you very much for such wonderful story♪

【A Little Something Extra】
・I know studying is your highest priority. But still…you do too have hobbies or perhaps a current kick?  

Of course I do! I like to travel. Whenever I go abroad for an academic meeting, I try as much as I can to find time for some sightseeing. I like seeing the scenery from the train window so I like railroads too.

・Are you one of those popular (?) railroad buffs ?

No,no. I haven’t reached the sphere of being a “buff”. I just like going to events at railyards and enjoy listening to the various motor sounds and starting melodies (bells).

・Ok, “motor sounds”? That in itself brings some doubts of being a railroad buff (haha)!