Wednesday 13 November 2013

Interviewed for SfN Career Development Show Case

During attending 43th annual meeting of Society for Neuroscience, the biggest society in the field of neuroscience, I had a chance to be interviewed as one example of career development and as a mentor.
It was a unique experience for me.

Below is the messages I thought to talk (not actual one).
I got questions just before the interview.

The staff also sent me an e-mail message with some tips to be interviewed, including dress code.
Unfortunately, I do not have a good ones...

Interview contents:
Joys of Science
·       How did you first decide to become a neuroscientist?
When I was a high school student, I liked psychology and linguistics, but I entered a dental school because I would like to help others. Then, I became a graduate student because I found I prefer research that has more speed, change, and freedom. I first worked on craniofacial development, but because I bumped into a mutant rat that has no eyes and no nose, I have interest in that mutated gene, Pax6. Since Pax6 is also important in brain development and neurogenesis, I have entered neuroscience. Now I am working on animal model of autism, which is the topic very close to my original dream.
·       What is an example of a great day that you have had in the lab? What made this experience impactful?
I love beauty of the nature. When I come across with visually high impact data, I feel very happy to see them.
·       What drives you to continue in the field?
Passion for science. I love something with speed, change, and freedom, which can be the most likely obtained in science fields.
·       What are the rewards of a career in neuroscience?
To see the development of science. You know, neuroscience is the cutting-edge field, and lots of new findings come out every month, every week, even in every day around the world. It is really a fun for me.
·       What are challenges that you have faced during your career and how did you overcome them?
I could not have a chance to study abroad. Instead, I have tried to attend international meetings and almost always I give seminars in nearby cities or countries so that I can make friends and networks.
·       What advice would you give to young investigators to encourage them to stay in the pipeline?
Make good friends and obtain nice mentors. Do not compare with others. Everyone is unique.
·       What types of advice are needed at different stages in a neuroscience career?
I would like to say, chose your career in 2-dimensionally. One axis is you like it or don’t like it, and the other is you are good at it or bad at it. You can be successful if you can choose your career that you like and that you are good at it. Of course, you should not choose one you dislike and you are bad at. Then which you should choose something you like a lot but you are not good at it, or that you do not like so much but you are good at it. I would advise you should choose the latter. It is a good way to continue your career to choose something you are good at it rather than you just like it.
·       Do you have any tips on the best way to approach an unknown neuroscientist for career advice?
·       What are steps that are useful to take in preparation for a conversation on career advice?
·       What is your most rewarding experience as a mentor?
To see mentees grow. Actually, students, postdocs, young faculties make good progress.
·       How can mentors best manage relationships with mentees and mentoring relationship requests while managing other responsibilities?
I am not sure. 
·       How can a mentor best advise a mentee that will be pursuing a career away from the bench and the mentor’s area of expertise?
I am not sure. In that case, he or she should consult other suitable mentors in that area.
·       When has a mentor helped you make better career choices?
·       What is your most rewarding experience as a mentee?

Additional Questions if Time Permits
·       Can you think of any moments early in your career that helped you know that neuroscience was your passion?
·       What has your experience been in the field (training, attending conferences, etc.)?

·       Are there any changes in advice given with today’s budgetary limitations?
·       What should a good mentor strive for in their mentoring relationships?
·       How have you identified mentors throughout your career?
Watch out around me. It’s just like observation in science. You can find suitable mentors in your institute, or in the same scientific field if you look around.



The interview questions will be provided prior to filming. Below are some tips for speaking in front of a camera. 

·       Practice your delivery. Allow time to present the information at an easy and unrushed pace.

·       Speak naturally and enunciate. If you’re someone that talks with your hands, practice keeping them still. Hand movements distract the viewer. Also, keep head movements to a minimum.

·       Speak directly to the interviewer as if you are talking to a single audience member 1:1. Avoid looking at the camera.

·       Microphones are worn 6 inches below the chin for best sound. Avoid touching the microphone. Make sure it is placed somewhere that does not rub against your clothing.

·       Be yourself.  Once you begin speaking you’ll find that the information will flow smoothly. To maintain positive energy in your voice, smile while you are speaking. If you are sitting or standing during the interview, keep your shoulders back for good posture. Stay relaxed and stationary.

·       Dress appropriately. Wear pastel or light colors.  Avoid white, red and black. Avoid striped and patterned clothing as it does not transmit well on camera because it is visually distracting. 

·       Arrive a few minutes early to the interview to get oriented.

Thank you

Sunday 27 October 2013

Seasonal messages as President of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan

Since January of this year (2013), I have become President of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan.
It was one of the biggest society in the life science field, with 150,000 members.
I have started to send seasonal messages to the members to share our ideas and informations.

President's Message (Fall 2013)

portrait of Prof. Noriko Osumi
To the Members of the MBSJ

Thoughts on Tokyo's Selection as the Venue for the 2020 Olympics: Cultivating Science Talent Is a Key to Japan's Growth as a Nation

President's Message (Summer 2013)

portrait of Prof. Noriko Osumi
To the Members of the MBSJ

Celebrating the Birth of Japan’s First Female Scientists a Century Ago

President's Message (Spring 2013)

portrait of Prof. Noriko Osumi

Conveying and Discovering the Fascination of Science

Wednesday 17 July 2013

I was interviewed by Nature on "Japanese version of NIH" the other day. My comments were cited in News of July 11th issue.
I found the web page used one more picture that is not included in the hard copy, which makes the article more catchy.

Outcry over plans for ‘Japanese NIH’

Researchers fear reforms will bring cuts to basic science.
  • Ichiko Fuyuno

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Classical yet innovative

Spirit of Japanese culture is sometimes difficult to explain for Western people. We often prefer "asymmetry" rather than "symmetry" that is more naturally understood beauty.
This mind is related to the fact we appreciate "imperfection", like "IZAYOI" moon rather than the full moon.
Or, it is reflected on tea bowls patched with gold, which adds more "scenery" than they are perfectly made.

And this favor for "imperfection" seems to relate with "transition of time".
For example, Japanese drawings tell stories from the right side to the left side.
They do not reflect just some "scenes" of a certain moment.
This may be come from we have distinct seasons that change one to another.
So, we love something transitory.

Asymmetry is seen in various ways, like distribution of stones in rock gardens, shelves of SUKIYA-style old houses, and even in the gate of shrines (TORII).
Did you know that right and left pillars of the gate is not the same diameter?
Behind the gate is the shrine, and so, if you come and face the gate from outside, your left hand-side (geometrically, the west-side) pillar is wider than the right hand-side (the east-side).
I have heard from this fact from my friend who once was working on left-right asymmetry of the fish, such as sword fish.

I attended Neuro2013 last week, and visited FUSHIMI-INARI located southeast to Kyoto Station, just before coming back to Sendai.
It is really amazing that hundreds of gates, i.e., TORIIs, are lined up in a row.
Each TORII, the gate, is the donation from people who wish something like happiness or health or treasure.
There is a notice showing who donated each gate, and it seems the gate is regularly turns over, replacing a rotted one by a newly donated one.

It is like a passage to a world of different dimension.....
And I suddenly realized this is really modern and innovative even though each gate itself is just a classic old style.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Neuro2013 Satellite Symposium on Brain Development and Evolution in Kyoto

Attended Neuro2013, this year a joint meeting of Japanese Neuroscience Society, Japanese Neurochemistry Society, and Japanese Neural Network Society, was held in Kyoto, and we, Dr. Tadashi Nomura and me, organized a satellite symposium on brain development and evolution at the library hall in Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine.

There were 99 participants including 10 speakers from the US, Germany, France, and Japan, plus one Keynote Lecturer, Prof. Wieland Huttner@Max Planck Institute in Dresden. Thanks to volunteers to set up the venue or serve other things and Tadashi's powerful yet friendly organization and hospitality, the meeting was quite successful with beautiful presentation and lots of hot discussion.

In my opinion, it is a good timing to hold such a small meeting on brain development and evolution. Actually, in the succeeded two days in Neuro2013, there were another two symposia on similar topics with variety of different approaches. One was organized by Tadashi and Dr. Yoko Arai, my previous student who are now in Alessandra Pierrani's lab in Paris. Yoko shared her days with Tadashi, who was an assistant professor in my lab, learning embryonic manipulation techniques to do developmental neurobiology, and now expanded her research field to vertebrate brain evolution toward human being. The other one was held by Prof. Kazunori Nakajima in Keio University and Dr. Carina Hanashima in RIKEN CDB. There were larger amount of audience than we expected in both of the symposia. This means, various intriguing questions in brain evolution can now be solved with cutting-edge cool tools.

So, Brain EvoDevo is quite HOT in the field of neuroscience!

Facebook for the meeting

Thursday 13 June 2013

Yesterday, Mr. Stefan Noreen, previous Ambassador of Sweden and now Senior Advisor in Office of the President of The University of Tokyo, visited Tohoku University.
This is based on the purpose of our university to become officially linked to Karolinska Institute and other research institues in Sweden.
I had an opportunity to have lunch with Mr. Noreen with our Vice President Prof. Sadayoshi Ito and Prof. Ryuta Kawashima, a brain scientist who is famous for "Brain Training" DS program.

I introduced that our Tohoku University has long history in brain science, and also did mention about the 100th anniversary of acceptance of women students in our university in 1913.
We also talked about globalization in universities, which must be the key to change Japanese educational systems.
Our Tohoku University has a policy of "opening the door", originally to undergraduate candidates who did not graduated "high schools" in those days.
Now the door should be more widely open abroad to accept a larger amount of students from foreign countries.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Tohoku University Science Angels 2013

This year 63 female graduate students have been appointed under the name of President as Science Angels in Tohoku University.
They are messengers, like Angels bring words of God to people, to introduce joy and fun of science to the public, especially of younger generations.
They thus serve as role models for high school girls to get into science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
For example, Science Angels give seminars in high schools and advice on career paths in STEM fields.
They also volunteer in local scientific events for children by demonstrating experiments like extracting DNA from banana or showing the cloud chamber.
This unique system of Science Angels has started 8 years ago, as a part of the gender equality project to promote and encourage women scientists because women researchers are minority especially in the STEM fields.
There are already 160 ex-Science Angels who are now active in various field in Japan and other countries as postdocs, junior faculties, workers in private companies, etc.

Also this year our university will celebrate 100th anniversary of the first women students in Japan.
In 1913, three students, i.e., Chika Kuroda, Ume Tange, and Raku Makita, entered Faculty of Science.
Chika and Ume majored chemistry, and Raku studies mathematics.
It is very interesting that the first university students in Japan were all in STEM fields.

Today, I met Prof. Kotaro Kuroda, who is a son of the step child of Chika Kuroda.
He graduated Faculty of Engineering in Kyushu University.
It is amazing to know that I have connected with Chika Kuroda in the real world.

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University
Origins of Female University Students

Sunday 26 May 2013

Messages as President of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan

Probably, it is my destiny that I have become President of the Molecular Biology Society of Japan that is consisted with 15 thousand of members from this year.
Things have been more hectic nowadays, but I would like to restart my blog in English version because I have something that I would like to share with people around the world.

Here are the messages I have distributed via the mailing list:
Messages from the 18th President (2013/1)
Conveying and discovering the fascination of science (2013/4)