Increasing the visibility of female researchers at our university.
#1: Sara's Experience
Q. Which country are you from? Which department are you in?
A. Egypt. Chemical System Engineering
Q. Could you tell us about your journey from enrolling as a university student to your current post?
A. I finished my undergraduate and Master's degrees at Cairo University, after which I moved to Switzerland for my PhD. I did at ETH Zurich. This experience has helped me a lot to develop myself personally and as a researcher. I moved to Sweden afterwards for a short post-doc at Chalmers and then finally to UTokyo first as a post-doc and then as a project assistant professor.
Q. Why did you choose UTokyo? What was the most attractive point to you? What do you think are the shortcomings - if any - of being a researcher at UTokyo?
A. UTokyo is a great place to do research with lots of innovation and will for change. I was excited to work on my current research topic with my wonderful colleagues. Being in Tokyo in itself was another great motivation to move here. There is so much to explore in the city and in Japan as a whole. The culture, the people, the nature, so many adventures :)
Being a researcher at UTokyo offers many wonderful opportunities. In my opinion increasing the diversity and international exposure of the UTokyo staff and students could bring even more opportunities for collaborations and integration with the international research community. It would offer a chance for revitalising the research and for opening the door for students to gain experience faster. Increased communication in English within all university activities is key for that.
Q. Do you have any role models? If so, how do they inspire you?
A. Yes of course. There is so much to learn from everyone around. Older researchers who continue to learn and develop their skills. How they eagerly share their experiences with everyone around them. Younger students when they learn how to overcome new obstacles are very inspiring. They are a reminder that with hard work and perseverance big leaps can be achieved in ourselves.
Q. Where is your favourite spot on campus?
A. The little table above the pond :)
Q. In one sentence, what is your research topic? Would you mind sharing one exciting moment or one fascinating thing about your research?
A. Development of biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes. Knowing that my work even in a very small degree can have real impact on the lives of patients waiting for important drugs and vaccines is very gratifying at the moment especially in these times of a global pandemic.
Q. Have you faced (or are you facing) any difficulties as a researcher? How did (or do) you overcome them?
A. Sometimes finding a new direction can be difficult especially after finishing big milestones in previous projects. It's important in these cases to keep the curiosity asking yourself and others around you what problems exist and try to break them down to solvable smaller pieces. It takes some practice, but it is in itself a very exciting process :)
Q. Imagine you have a little sister who is about to start a journey as a researcher at UTokyo. What message or advice would you give to her?
A. Be curious, be open to finding new directions. Talk to as many people as you can and try to learn from everyone. Ask questions and get involved in many projects where you can continuously learn and grow. Never stop learning and always look for bigger and better answers :)