December 2012 Edition (Part1）
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
Full of smiles when talking about Idol-Y
First Ms. Conahana we would like to introduce is Prof. Futaba Kazama, Director of our office, Female Researchers’ Support Division.
She serves as professor at International Research Center for River Basin Environment and Department of Environmental Sciences, Universitiy of Yamanashi, whose major study is on ‘water’. She is also a mother of a high school girl.
●I would like to ask how she has handled both her work and childbirth/raring.
Let’s start with a question about work. What research theme you are most up to these days?
It’s water. I study on water.
It’s just water, but studies related to water range very wide and far.
What role does water play? Have you ever thought about it?
It’s not just that something we drink.
Water is necessary for animals and plants, agriculture and engineering-product manufacturing processes. Water in canals supports logistics, water as steam or stream generates power. On the other hand, excess water can cause a huge disaster and the lack of it also can cause drought.
Water is a common resource of society.
But people use it at their own benefit, contaminate it at their own benefit and finally often create a situation that gives themselves a hard time.
You are always around water and need it but somehow not aware of its real capacity.
The more you know, it will get you even deeper and wider totally comprehensive field of study and it cannot fall under simply one category of any study.
That was how I got where I am now in this field.
The International Research Center for River Basin Environment is where I belong. We research, for example, ‘quantity’ and ‘quality’ of water, and effective use of water or hygienic water management in developing countries.
I actually go to South East Asia where people are in the lack of drinking water. Our task there is to reach to a solution to get water over financial and political obstacles. What is required is not your experimental result but your practical decision making in the real situation to answer their question, ‘so what can you do right now, right here?’
Out there on field, you have to provide an ‘integrated solution’ based on knowledge and persuasion. It’s hard, worth challenging and interesting after all.
●I can see how much you are dedicated to your research.
Next, would you tell us about when you were pregnant?
I got married at very early stage of my career path. But by the time that I found myself pregnant, I had pretty much paved a road.
Honestly speaking, marriage can be anytime but pregnancy happens only when it happens, that’s my impression.
People’s awareness was not very high back at that time. Nobody clearly voice it but ‘maternity leave’ was not necessarily something simply celebrated but it was more like a trouble for most of the people who work there as decline in the manpower.
I worked until almost full-term wearing LL(?) size outfits. I tried not to look like pregnant though some people asked me if I gained some weight.
It was not an ‘environment where you can easily have and rear a baby’. Looking back, maybe I managed well to survive tough time (lol).
●How did you handle both your work and child rearing when your daughter was very young?
During an experiment, you can never plan things enough and unexpected things do happen. You cannot necessarily leave the office on time every day.
It happened like I had to wait for another 5 min. to turn on a tester, another 10 min. to cool down a measuring device…but I needed to go and pick up my daughter by certain time every day.
Hence I was almost always late and a nurse used to say that I was the last to fetch my child again.
When my daughter was so small, I sometimes came to the office with her on weekends or took her together to an overseas training.
And that helped her gradually understand her mother’s work, it seems.
I sometimes look back and wonder if my daughter missed me too much. But she says that she didn’t have any strong impression.
Anyways, thank god, now she grew up just like other girls (lol). And I shouldn’t forget that it would not have been ever possible without support from my family who also took good care of her.
●More and more interesting conversation follows in the next edition. Stay tuned!