NAIST is an academic institution for everyone

Rika Indri Astuti ( Lecturer and Researcher, Microbiology Division, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia )

NAIST has given me so much from the very first day I entered NAIST building in 2010, not forget to mention that was my first Japan visit ever. I was selected, at that time, to join a Graduate School of Biological Science (GSBS)-NAIST Special Recommendation Program for Doctoral Degree. This program allowed me to know better about academic and research ambience in NAIST, which I consider it as “enchantingly nice experience”, a worth remembering journey. This journey essentially led me to apply as Doctoral student in the Laboratory of Applied Stress Microbiology, popularly known as Takagi Lab in 2012. 

Microbiology is always be my major interest in science and having the opportunity to work in Takagi`s lab for nearly 3.5 years had broaden my knowledge, laboratory skill and soft skills substantial for being a microbiologist, not just “a microbiologist” but most importantly, the good ones. I used to work in the field of bacterial physiology and genetics before entering NAIST, thus everything was brand new and challenging once I got myself involved in yeast research in Takagi lab. At the early days of my Doctoral student time, I was chalenged by Prof. Takagi to verify the occurrence of radical-molecule mediated signal transduction phenomenon in fission yeast, which was barely reported. Since then, a journey of my research has begun. All of my research research supervisors, including Prof. Takagi, Prof. Shiozaki and Prof. Maki asked me to be creative and use critical thinking in solving every research problems throughout my study. I believe that creativity and critical thinking are prominent in the development of science and scientific knowledge, especially in studying natural phenomena.

As academic institution, NAIST conducts both academic and research activities at its best.  There are notable faculty professors, comprehensive curriculum, advanced laboratory equipments, as well as fruitful academic atmosphere, just everything I need to get a good education. In addition to that, NAIST has a support office, including student affairs office,  that will always be there to support student with their administrative necessities. As moslem Indonesian, I acknowledge NAIST for being very supportive and friendly in treating moslem community. For instance, NAIST manages to provide facilities for moslem to pray as well as provide halal food in the cafetaria. NAIST is an academic institution for everyone, indeed. 

After finishing my degree, I continue to work in my home country as lecturer/researcher in the Lab. of Microbiology, Bogor Agricultural University. My experience in working with yeast during my research in NAIST had set a strong background for me to establish and elaborate yeast research here in my home university, in Indonesia. I have been very fortunate in my career and had great opportunities to start my very own research field as the Government through Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of Indonesia funded my yeast research, regarding yeast engineering for the second generation of bioethanol productions. In addition, research collaboration between Prof. Takagi and I has been established and still continue to grow, as I have the opportunity to stay and conduct research project in NAIST for several months within two consecutive fiscal years (2016 and 2017) under the project called, Global Collaborative Program. Implementation of every good value I got during my study in NAIST truly benefits me in many ways. I believe that NAIST shares great contribution in rendering good values to all students, including me.

( 2015 | Laboratory of Applied Stress Microbiology )

Finding pride in the right place

Chonprakun Thagun (Thailand) ( Enzyme Research Team, Center of Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS), RIKEN )

My passion for science began after one of my high school teachers sent me to attend a science camp at a university. After that, I decided to study in the field of science in higher education even though my family would not agree with this idea because, in their opinions, the profession of scientist in Thailand was not publicly interested and this career is not able to make money compared to other professions such as doctors or engineers. However, when I decided to study in the field that I dreamed of, they respected my decision and promoted what I chose. Now, I am a post-doc researcher in Enzyme Research Team, Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in RIKEN and am trying to make one more step closer to my passionate dream, to be a good scientist.

While I was studying for a master's degree at Mahidol University in Thailand, I was selected for the “Prescreening of Student for Special Recommendation” program by Graduate School of Biological Science, NAIST. On my 25th birthday, I received an email from the NAIST that I was selected among dozens of students enrolled in the program to get a chance to study at the doctoral level at NAIST for a period of four years. It was the most valuable birthday gift and it changed my life. Throughout the four years at NAIST, I was under the supervision of Hashimoto-sensei and Shoji-sensei in the Laboratory of plant cell function. In Hashimoto lab, I worked on the control of the gene expression mechanism in tomatoes, so everyone knew me as the “Tomatoman”. I learned as much on research from both professors, including in technical research, knowledge-based and advanced research and creation of the research that will serve as a fundamental knowledge and application for the future. Not only doing research, I also took the opportunity to study in Japan to learn Japanese, work with Japanese people and learn the Japanese way of life from my friends and other co-workers. It makes me more comfortable living in Japan even though I am a foreigner. And over the course of four years, I had the opportunity to learn and understand the meaning of being a scientist from Hashimoto-sensei, not only academic knowledge but also a philosophy that scientists should consider rigorously understood. He thoroughly taught me the importance and quality of research, “no matter how difficult it is and how long it may take us to get to it, it just gets more meaningful and valuable for those who are interested”. Although the research I am doing right now may be different from what I have done, I still hold on to the importance and quality of research, above all else.

It would be very difficult to fulfill my dream if I did not have the opportunity to study at NAIST because alone in that size, I do not know how far I can run my dream but NAIST makes me think that I have come a long way, so far, that I never expected to come to this point. If you are choosing a path to go for your future, indeed, there are plenty of routes to choose from. Although the path to NAIST, it will not be easy, not very elegant, but at NAIST, you can be sure that you will be able to walk in the future in your own way, ready, courageous and brave. Because NAIST will not just give you the chance to make a commitment to success but everything, every staff member and yourself at NAIST will promote and create something that will take you beyond all the boundaries you have and allow you to outgrow your limits.

( 2016 | Laboratory of Plant Cell Function )

One fine day, it will be your turn.

Arry Yanuar ( Vice Dean for Education, Research and Student Affairs Faculty of Pharmacy, Universitas Indonesia )

One fine day, it will be your turn. You will leave your homes and countries to pursue grander ambitions. You will leave friends, lovers, and other possibilities for the chance to roam the world and make deeper connections. You will defy your fear of change, hold your head high and do what you once thought was unthinkable and impossible. And it will be scary at first. But what I hope you’ll find in the end is that in leaving, you won’t just find your success, adventure, or freedom. More than anything, you’ll find yourself outgrowing your limits, just like the NAIST slogan says.

My current position is Vice Dean for Education, Research and Student Affairs in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Universitas Indonesia. In this position, I am always reminded of how difficult it is to do research and the importance of collaboration with other researchers so that I can formulate a policy on the development of research, development of graduate education at my institution.

Although my current position as Vice Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy is not directly supported from previous education in NAIST, my research experience from NAIST is useful in developing my laboratory (Biomedical Computation and Drug Design Laboratory) and developing the faculty policy for research.

In 2003, I enrolled in NAIST in the laboratory of Professor Hakoshima as a doctoral student. I was fortunate to be able to join in this laboratory because at that time Professor Hakoshima was very famous for being involved in the Protein 3000 project. This also gave me the spirit to work hard and prove something valuable for my professor.

Working with Japanese friends was very pleasant. With their help at the beginning, I was able to adjust well and eventually work independently. At first I was not so fluent in Japanese and couldn’t read Japanese characters well, but they helped me with my problems. All the equipment only had instructions in Japanese. Sometimes it made me frustrated. Most students who could speak English also helped me a lot with this problem.

My senior, Shigeru Sakurai gave me inspiration on how to process research data quickly and efficiently using a computer. From this lab I also gained experience in the use of molecular modeling techniques to complete the three-dimensional structure of proteins. Until now, most of the techniques that I learned in this lab I have applied in my lab development in Indonesia (Biomedical Computation and Drug Design in Faculty of Pharmacy, Universitas Indonesia)

My original motivation in choosing a career in university teaching was with the hope of continuing my study abroad in a doctoral program. After a long wait while looking for an appropriate field of study, I finally got an offer to study funded by Iida Foundation Scholarships. I chose the field of x-ray crystallography in the hope that knowledge can be used in drug development.


( 2006 | Structural Biology Laboratory )

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