Increasing the visibility of female researchers at our university.
#6: Reina's Experience
Q1: Which country or Japanese prefecture are you from? Which department are you in?
I am from Tokyo. I am a researcher from the Research into Artifacts, Center for Engineering (RACE) in the Graduate School of Engineering.
Q2: Could you tell us about your journey from enrolling as a university student to your current post?
2013.4 Entered UTokyo, College of Arts and Sciences (Science I)
2014.4–2017.3 Undergraduate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
2017.4–2018.9 Master’s course in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering
2018.9–2021.9 Doctoral course in the same department
Current position: Assistant professor in the Research into Artifacts, Center for Engineering (RACE) of Graduate School of Engineering
Q3: Where is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite places are the laser-equipped laboratory and the back corner of the library in Engineering Building 2nd. I also like the library of the Department of Architecture and the area around Sanshiro Pond, (although I can't go there often).
Q4: 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?
I chose UTokyo because I thought it would expand the possibilities for my future. When I was in high school I was attracted by the existence of the College of Arts and Science (where freshmen and sophomores could take any humanities or science classes before they choose their major). Nowadays, what I find most attractive about UTokyo is that it is full of talents and opportunities. Having so many outstanding people around stimulates me, and I learn a lot from them. However, sometimes I feel down about my inadequacies when the people around me are too excellent. That is a disadvantage of UTokyo for me.
Q5: If you have experience at overseas institutions, what are some of the differences with the campus culture at UTokyo?
I stayed at Politecnico di Milano in Italy as an exchange student for six months. It might depend on the field, but I think the amount of time spent on research is different between the two universities. At UTokyo, I have the impression that there are overwhelmingly more people doing research at night and on weekends. Perhaps it’s because of the high awareness of safety management in Europe.
Moreover, I feel that there is a strong passion for lunch and coffee in Italian culture. There was a good espresso machine in the room I stayed in. Many people came and gathered there during coffee time. We also often went to places that were a little (very) far away for good food at lunchtime with friends and colleagues.
I used to think that people tend to socialize in a businesslike manner at work and value their private time in western culture, but the workplace at university was friendly. We got on well with each other even on our days off, crossing the boundaries between students and professors.
Q6: Do you have any role models? If so, how do they inspire you?
My role model is my senior (senpai) who gave me advice on research at graduate school. I have been impressed by his dedication to research and attitude toward learning. Although I can’t be as good as him, I still view him as my goal, especially when I feel tired or lazy. It gives me the courage to go back and start again.
Q7: In one sentence, what is your research topic? Would you mind sharing one exciting moment or one fascinating thing about your research?
I aim to create a laser processing technology that is useful to society through investigating the interaction of transparent materials and light. The most exciting part of my research is when I observe unexpected experimental results (not errors).
Q8: Give us three keywords to describe your life as a researcher at UTokyo.
Progress steadily (hanging in there), excited (having fun), step by step (aiming ahead)
Q9: Have you faced (or are you facing) any difficulties as a researcher? How did (or do) you overcome them?
I am facing some difficulties now, and I’m still fighting.
Q10: Have you faced any difficulties in balancing your private life and research?
There are many problems when the rhythm of personal life does not match with the rhythm of research. I once slowed down my research a bit when I needed to spend time caring for my family. I could control the time for research to balance it with my private life.
I also asked my family to be patient with me while I was writing my doctoral thesis, but it was still difficult to match my rhythm of life with theirs. I tried to solve this problem in a slightly aggressive way by starting to live on my own. I was able to save time commuting after moving closer to the university. It not only solved the problem of the different life rhythms with my family but also helped me to stay healthy. So I think it was a great solution.
Q11: If you had the chance to start over again, would you still choose the same career?
Because starting over again means that I know what is likely to happen when I make the choice, I will choose a different path. It's the same feeling as when you already know a restaurant is good, but you would probably want to try a new one you've never been to, even when it doesn’t look great.
Q12: 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?
If you're going to do something, you've got to put your all into it!