Increasing the visibility of female researchers at our university.
#10: Leilei's Story
Q1. Where are you from? Which department are you in?
A1. China / The Graduate School of Engineering, Department of Precision Engineering.
Q2. Why did you choose UTokyo? What was the most attractive point to you? What do you think are the shortcomings of being a student at UTokyo, if there are any?
A2. I had planned to study abroad in Japan since entering my former university as an undergraduate. I knew that UTokyo was the top and most famous university in Japan, so I tried my best to get admitted. The most attractive thing about UTokyo is that it is a comprehensive university and very open to international students with different backgrounds, so I thought I could expand my horizons and learn a lot here. One of UTokyo’s shortcomings is that there are not so many activities for master’s and doctoral students to get to know each other and exchange opinions, especially between different departments. Moreover, many Japanese students are too shy to speak with international students so it is not easy to make friends with them (lol).
Q3. Do you have role models on campus, and how do they inspire you?
A3. One role model is my professor and supervisor. He is Korean but he can speak both Japanese and English fluently and he is a very open-minded and interesting person! He always listens to our opinions on research first, and then gives us very constructive comments and suggestions. He is also very hard-working and always encourages us young students.
Q4. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
A4. The seventh floor of the Industrial Institute of Science (IIS) building, Komaba Research Campus, where you have a good view of Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree at the same time.
Q5. What's your research topic (in one sentence)? Would you mind sharing one exciting moment or one fascinating thing you like the most in your research?
A5. My research topic is the fabrication of a porous microneedle sensor for antibody immunoassay. It is the first time that porous microneedles (microscopic needles for painless insertion into human skin and extraction of skin interstitial fluid) are being integrated with a sensor for antibody detection. I successfully proposed a new fabrication method of porous microneedles and newly designed an immunoassay biosensor to integrate with microneedles for anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG antibody detection. The most exciting moment was when the porous microneedle patch sensor which I developed worked and successfully detected the anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM/IgG antibody via in vitro tests.
Q6. Have you faced any difficulties as a graduate student? How did or do you overcome them?
A6. I felt desperate when I got stuck with my research, and I almost gave up on my doctor course. I overcame this by talking with lab members, friends and my parents.
Q7. If you have experience at overseas institutions, what are some of the differences with the campus culture at UTokyo?
A7. I spent one year at Chiba University as a third-year undergraduate (still in Japan, sorry). The campus culture at UTokyo seems more open and global, but in Chiba University there is a great place for relaxing called English House, for international and Japanese students to get together and have English/Japanese conversations. I often went there and made many international and Japanese friends.
Q8. Do you want the male students or faculty members around you to improve themselves? Do you feel that your gender influences how you are considered by them?
A8. Most of the time no, but sometimes I have been told by someone in my lab that: "You are a girl, so I think you probably know that xxxxxx", which does not make me feel good.
Q9. Imagine you have a little sister who is about to start a journey at UTokyo. What message or advice you would like to give to her?
A9. Do whatever you want, do not waste time!