Conohana-san of the Month February edition (Part 1)
◎ Introduction of Mr. Hiroyuki Shima
Organization: the Department of Environmental Science in the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences http://www.ev.yamanashi.ac.jp/
Field of study: Physical property theory, complex science system, food physics, sport physics
This interview is with associate professor Hiroyuki Shima from the Department of Environmental Science in the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, the University of Yamanashi.
He is from Hokkaido and moved to Yamanashi with his family as the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences was newly established.
● You are from Hokkaido. You left Hokkaido , the place you lived for a long time, to come to Yamanashi. What kind of differences do you see between Hokkaido and Yamanashi?
I spent most of the time of my life in Hokkaido since I was born and this is almost my first time to live outside of Hokkaido. But I don’t feel a big difference yet. I had a little knowledge of Yamanashi, I mean I moved without having any clear advanced image or preoccupation about Yamanashi. Once I started to live here, both the people and the atmosphere of the place are nice and warm. Yamanashi is a good place to live.
● I’m glad to hear that as one of Yamanashi local people♪ What is your impression of the University of Yamanashi?
I met many nice students. My previous work was at an engineering graduate school. The students were overall serious and smart, also a little too technical. Compared to that, the students of the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences are very frank and active, probably reflecting the faculty’s characteristics of learning and studying a subject from various points of view. I can see an atmosphere naturally pouring out from them that they are enjoying learning by using their own hands and feet through field work and laboratory courses. Students are communicating well with each other and that makes it easier for me to communicate with the students. They are dependable enough to make such an atmosphere by themselves and that also makes me feel motivated.
● When I talk to the students, I also have an impression that they are all frank, friendly and nice♪ There are three different faculties, education major, engineering major and agriculture major, on the Kofu campus. This variety may make this unique atmosphere. Your field of study is physics. When did you start to think about becoming a physicist?
It was very early. Actually, I wrote that I would become a physicist in a graduation essay for elementary school.
● You already wanted to become a researcher in elementary school (surprised) ! Did anything happen to you?
This is a story that my mother told me later. When I was in kindergarten, I wet many tissues and stuffed them into a freezer. My mother was surprised to find it and asked me why I did it. She said that I replied that I wanted to know what frozen tissues would be like. I was probably originally an argumentative child from then on. When I was in elementary school, I got to hear something about “the theory of relativity.” Of course, it’s not that I fully understood the theory (lol) but as I read that “throwing a ball in a moving train” has something to do with “warped space-time,” I really wanted to know more and understand. That turned on my curiosity and made me interested in physics.
● What an excellent elementary school student you were. Also it was wonderful for you that you encountered a life-time-long “curiosity-stimulating item” when you were still in elementary school! Having started with an interest in “physics,” have you ever experienced a setback in math in a way?
I was fine and it’s because my teacher in the 5th and 6th grade years taught us mathematics very well. I still remember the class when we calculated the area of a circle. We discussed and tried to figure out how we could find the area of a circle. We divided a circle into squares and triangles, tried many other ways, and finally reached the right answer of making many triangles with a minimum central angle. I felt a strong sense of pleasure and achievement that we reached the right answer on our own. I never felt that I was not good at mathematics since then although I often take time to reach an answer.
● It’s important to have a successful experience. I’m a bit jealous that you already knew such a sense of pleasure since you were a child. How did you like subjects other than science, such as Japanese?
I liked Japanese as much as I liked science. It may sound strange but I admired or respected Japanese more than science subjects such as math and physics. Here’s a story of when I was in high school. A Japanese teacher, who was also in charge of my club activity, had a deep personality. Knowing that I was aiming for a physics career, he told me to read books if I wanted to do an excellent job at the forefront. So I forced myself to read something difficult and bought a set of four Russian novels. It’s a series of thick and complicated novels that everybody knows but nobody would read without a serious reason to do so (lol). He advised me to gain learning skills by reading those kind of tough books, by reading many times, thinking many times, until I absorb meaning of the words as part of myself. I’m not a student anymore but the teacher’s advice at that time is still living in myself as a treasure. We think in a native language. Translation into a foreign language comes after that. First I have to be able to express my thought accurately in my own language. So it’s most important to improve Japanese, native language skills no matter whether you choose a humanities course or a science course. I am still supported by what I learned from that teacher in high school.
● Wow… you met many fascinating teachers!
Although this interview was our first time to meet, I was feeling as if I was talking to an old friend (^^) In the latter half of the interview, I was surprised and panicked as I heard more and more from Mr. Shima. Stay tuned for the next edition!