＜Education＞ Graduated from the University of Hokkaido, Completed the course work of the University of Nagoya Graduate school Doctor’s Course (Latter period)
＜Organization＞ Worked at the Yamanashi Prefectural Science Center in charge of astronomy, Established “Hoshizora Kobo Arurisha” this fiscal year (http://alricha.net/), the Yamanashi Prefectural Science Center Astronomy Adviser, Lecturer at the Yamanashi Prefectural University and Nihon University College of Art.
This interview is with Ms. Mariko Takahashi. She had been managing and making planetarium programs at the Yamanashi Prefectural Science Center since its establishment. Also, she is the person who originated the “Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta” project. Ms. Takahashi lectured on June 21st in the course titled “Career Development for Science Major Women.”
During the lecture, we had a live performance (!) of the cosmos through images as if in a planetarium as well as with her narration. It was a dreamy lecture☆★☆
Now let’s start the interview!
● You have been working in the field of a starlit sky and planetarium. What was the trigger that brought you into the field?
It was Mr. Michio Hoshino, a photographer. I happened to read an interview article by Mr. Hoshino and Mr. Shunichi Akasofu, a researcher of auroras. After I read the article full of various stories about nature in Alaska and auroras, I came to feel like knowing more about that. I was a high school student at that time and decided to study aurora in university!
● It was the best timing that you found out about the course after high school. It was ideal timing, wasn’t it? (lol)
It was only my passion that I chose the university to go to. My school teacher said that my score was not high enough for the choice but I didn’t care. I finally passed the entrance exam thanks to my passion and toughness (lol). However, I came to know that there was no opportunity to study aurora in that university only on the second day that I started.
● Oh no! Is that true!?
I was only a freshman but visited the department of earth physics, where I believed that students were studying about aurora. But senior peers I met there told me that no aurora program was available at the university.
● What a pity…
I should have collected more information beforehand. But there was a senior peer who suggested that I could do my own research. So I followed that senior peer and entered the department of earth physics. Also, I traveled around Hokkaido by bike in summer, wrote a letter to Mr. Hoshino, went to Alaska and saw the aurora directly. I was always thinking about Alaska at that time. I was also dreaming about going to the graduate school of Alaska but I took a more realistic way of researching aurora in Japan at another university’s graduate school.
● You were finally ready to research aurora after the four years of building the ground work!
I moved to Nagoya and finally started my research. I enjoyed it. I was also given an opportunity to stay overseas.
However, I was a bit doubtful about becoming a researcher somewhere in my mind when I was in a doctoral course. Until the master’s course, it’s rather program oriented and you can clear most of the process by following instructions from professors and working on analysis one by one. But in a doctoral course, I had to pick a theme by myself. I thought I had many things that “interested” me, but I could not organize them into a research program. Continuing research and becoming a researcher was one of my career options but I started to think that it might be wrong.
● You suffered a setback in the doctoral course.
I liked to see researchers enjoying their research activities. They made me aware of a matter of course that science is done by people working through things. However, I couldn’t turn a research theme into my “own topic to solve.” I couldn’t find the personal meaning of research for myself. Then, when I was so troubled I heard about the news of Mr. Hoshino’s death. I was already suffering with depression and the news took me into further darkness.
● Many things happened at once.
I didn’t know what to do for a while and decided to go to Alaska to think about everything such as what Alaska, aurora and Mr. Michio Hoshino meant to me. Then when I was in Alaska, I remembered a dream.
● What kind of dream? To be continued！
Ms. Takahashi answered questions from students after the lecture.