Today’s interview is with Ms. M in the second year of the Master’s Course of Biotechnology Major, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering. She is a Rike-jo (female student in the science and engineering majors) whose employment at a leading food manufacturer from this April has already been decided.
The interview covers her studies from her undergraduate school days until now, the job-hunting process, her plans for the future, about her romance, etc. Well, let’s get started.
The exploration of life phenomenon, the revelation of the mechanism of the transference/ transformation of its energy, information and materials, and their applications to the biotechnology give our life a great impact. This major is to foster human resources with expert knowledge and cutting-edge technique of vital functions and food productions.
In this course, students learn the basic knowledge and the latest experiment technique of micro-organism engineering, cell engineering, biogenetics, molecular biology, and bioorganic chemistry. Then they further learn methods to solve a wide range of problems such as the functional development of the cells of microorganisms, animals, and plants, a global environmental restoration, how to secure energy and food, the improvement of food safety/ functionality, and health promotion. We also explore the functions of useful cells of microorganisms, animals and plants, and conduct research especially for the application to the bio-industry, from a perspective of “manufacturing”.
●You entered University of Yamanashi from the master’s course. May I ask what brought you to our graduate school?
●I studied metabolism and genes at a bioscience course of an agricultural department at a university in Kanagawa prefecture. I always loved research but while in undergraduate school, students can enter laboratories only when they are senior students. So there was actually only one year or so for me to do research. It seemed too short for me to acquire the knowledge and experience that I had envisaged, and decided to go on to graduate school. I am originally from Yamanashi, so I chose here to continue my studies.
●You tried to find a job when you were a junior student. Do you think what you had learned until then helped the job hunting?
●At that time, it seemed that the most students who were looking for a job in the field I was aiming at were graduate students. In fact, there was nothing I could speak of at the job interview when the question about “research” or performance was raised. It was by no means easy for a junior student without experience to answer such interview questions. I entered university because I had wanted to do research, but by the time I was looking for a job, in the 3rd year, I had no experience of research, and had no prospect of getting a job that allowed me to continue studying. I became deflated and doubted if my studies at university had had any meaning. So, gradually I felt like going on to graduate school.
●Now you are a graduate student. What kind of research are you doing?
●When I was a senior student, my research object was actinomycetes.
※Actinomycetes: A group of microorganisms with a high level of performance of secretion of antibiotics, enzyme proteins, etc., which plays an important role in the field of drugs and medicines, cosmetics, food, and so on.
The actinomycetes are taken from nature, but the research was focused in the antibiotic-producing microorganism and uviofast bacteria taken from cold places, such as an iceberg, Mt. Fuji, etc., based on the idea that the samples with rare separable elements from high altitude might have strong UV resistance. About 200 kinds of antibiotic-producing microorganism were found in the research.
●How do you check if they have UV resistance?
By exposing them to UV light one by one. UV-resistant microorganisms were not found except only one kind, still it was intriguing to find that there is a bacteria which has a similar structural formula as an anticancer drug has. In the master’s course, I studied the classification of microorganisms. This classification was not yet defined, so I studied the method to classify them on the genetic level.
●Do you think your lifestyle changed after entering the graduate school due to its hard schedule?
●I don’t think so! From the senior year, experiments rather than lectures became the major part of my study. It may depend on the laboratory or the research subject, but as for me it is possible to set a schedule according to my own pace, and of course, I get rest (chuckle).
●In our Female Researcher Supporting System, you volunteered as a CA (career assistant). Let me ask you what you think of the experience.
※Female Researcher Supporting System: The system that the career assistants support the female researchers who are confronting their life events, by assisting their research, experiments, etc.
●I think I had a really good experience.
We have a rare chance to see laboratories other than our own. It was a precious experience for me having seen different approaches to experiments, or new perspectives. It allowed me to take a closer look at, or to practice, the work of researchers, which made me rethink of “research”, and upgrade my skills, I believe.
It also helped me to visualize my work in the future. I became more realistic about my future looking at how female researchers are taking balance between home (child rearing) and work (research activity).
Also they seemed to receive a good family support, which made me imagine that I too would be able to have a good support from my future family.
Let me inform you that her activity of CA was covered by a TV program!
So much for today. Next time we will hear about the Rike-jo’s job hunting!