December 2012 Edition (Part2)
In ‘Conahana-san of the Month’, we introduce experiences of senior female researchers who have been successfully managed their work-life balance between research/work and life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.
◎Introduction of Prof. Futaba Kazama
Civil engineering and environmental system (development of environmental engineering/water purification/effluent treatment technologies, study of river basin integral management method, development of environmental water restoration technology), environmental fate analysis (research and study on limnology, rivers/lakes/groundwater in Yamanashi prefecture)
Professor,International Research Center for River Basin Environment, Department of Research Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering, University of Yamanashi
Professor (dual assignment),Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Yamanashi
The interview is continued with Prof. Futaba Kazama, chief of this Female Researchers’ Support Division.
She serves as professor at International Research Center for River Basin Environment and Department of Environmental Sciences, Universiti of Yamanashi, whose major study is on ‘water’. She is also a mother of a high school girl.
Following the first half of the interview that covered her research theme and child birth/raring experience,
this edition focuses on her career as ‘professor’.
●What kind of impact do you think your child had on your research and work?
Having a child, I became to think more about our future, like the future of Japan.
Life of my child, our future, tomorrow’s society or community, environment….
That brought me back to a thought that water is important.
Water environment has a direct impact on the future social environment. That thought moved me to start activity of ‘Yamanashi Mizu(water)-net’ (Please visit the website!) This is a grass-root activity with local people and now we have certain amount of data of our repeated water quality research.
It’s been about 10 years since we started a summer event ‘Let’s go to riverside, let’s step into the river’ for primary school kids and their parents.
Watching kids playing and smiling in the river, hearing their delighted voices when they find fish and water insects, I once again believe that the importance of clean water environment and feel confidence in the way that I came and I go ahead.
Maybe having a child enabled me to realize this.
I hope that more people become aware of river and riverside environment, and ground water which tap water made from. That is one of the purposes of my activity.
●You are engaged in various activities.
Well… this is very basic question to start with but what tasks exactly do you have as ‘professor’?
I attend various internal meetings. I sometimes have homework.
Then, my lectures. I teach courses along with other professors this term such as air/water circulation system, environment measurement skill practice, and for grad school, special lecture on terrestrial water quality assessment.
I also supervise students in my lab, which is the most fun part, to hold a seminar, teach experiment and analysis method and assess their papers. I have to take care of the budget of the entire lab, too.
I have external tasks, too, such as to make comments as national or local government committee panel, to start up joint projects with local communities and firms…
●Wow, it sounds like super busy. You don’t get panicked!?
I could (lol)…so I take notes as much as possible.
I use a loose-leaf binder to make a to-do list and carry it with me all the time. I don’t make sense without it.
I put to-do items lined up on the right page, leave the left page blank so that I can take notes anytime.
It works well for me and tell my students to try as well… but it’s not so popular yet I guess. (lol)
●May I take a look ot the notebook? Oh, you use many colors as you like. How do you organize your schedule?
I always have my iPad to check schedule and emails.
Still I often get confused with all the documents and materials that I receive at daily casual and official meetings. Now what I do is to put date on each document and pile it in an envelope in the order of date. Also, I daily keep a separate notebook to list the documents in those envelopes.
Since then, I take less time to look for documents… but sometimes I still find some of them missing. (phew)
●Now would you give a message to female researchers who will or now have babies or kids along their work?
Let me comment as chief of the Conohana project.
I assume that most of pregnant mothers are worried about a baby very much until successfully delivered. Once the baby is born, then worried about if they grow up fine. That happens no matter whether a mother has a job or not. Having said that, if your career prevents you from having and raring a child, that society is not healthy enough.
Even though there are more female researchers compared to before, male is definitely in the majority. That makes it more difficult for females to get the limited number of good positions or to go back to a career path in a full scale once you became off from the front line for a while. That is why I recognize the necessity of support to equally handle both work and having, raring a child.
The support should not be limited to women but include father researchers who join child rearing as well.
Those visions back me up to drive the Conohana project.
At the same time, we need to raise awareness in the work place so that no body hesitate to have ‘celebrating life events’ such us marriage, pregnancy, child birth.
Our support capability might not good enough yet to cover all faculty members at this moment. However, after 5-year or10-year time, I wish that people will look back and say that this support division had played a solid role to change the environment.
● I will do my best as a member of this division. The interview was very informative and interesting. Thank you!
(My favorite idol? Definitely Yama-P!）