Bulletin of Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology
  kyurizukai interview  
08 Ryo Ohmura 2 An encounter with Prof. Sloan motivated  me to begin serious research into clathrate hydrates.

What was the impetus for you to begin studying clathrate hydrates?
      It was when I joined Prof. Yasuhiko Mori’s laboratory as a senior. In those days, Dr. Mori focused on research into heat transfer, one of its themes being clathrate hydrates. Although I found clathrate hydrate phenomena intriguing back in those days, I didn’t give it much further thought. But my perception of clathrate hydrates changed dramatically when I had an opportunity to meet Prof. E. D. Sloan Jr. of the Colorado School of Mines.
      Prof. Sloan is the leading figure in the field of clathrate hydrate study with outstanding achievements in engineering. When I was studying in the master’s program, a special course was held in our School of Science and Technology inviting Prof. Sloan. Though the special course lasted only for two months, it was a truly inspiring experience for me as it allowed me to acquire systematic knowledge from Prof. Sloan, whose research activity had focused on clathrate hydrates for years.
      I must admit that the clathrate hydrate research I had been engaged in up until then was merely at the stage of a development from the heat transfer engineering. The encounter with Prof. Sloan turned out to be a breakthrough as it also allowed me to learn in depth about basic physical properties. Surprises and possibilities I could notice by learning vis-à-vis Mr. Sloan, not through theses, had a great impact on the future course of my research activities.
      When I was thinking of continuing my clathrate hydrate research pursuit after acquisition of a doctor’s degree, I happened to know that the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) was looking for young researchers in the field of hydrates. I was quick to apply for a position there. Many of the senior researchers with whom I worked in the AIST project were specialists in applied physics; hence the mainstream of their research style was to focus on the pursuit of physical properties. As a researcher from the mechanical engineering field, I still remember that the approach from applied physics was fresh and rewarding. I belonged to the AIST for four years, during which period I experienced practical aspects of engineering science – the field where I could engage in fundamentals of applied physics while simultaneously observing research targets from the engineering perspective. It was a truly valuable experience as it concerns my current research activity.

photoAfter leaving AIST, you returned to Keio. Was there any special reason for doing so?
      Since my student days, I had thought I’m of the type who encourage others and draw out their potential abilities, which I became strongly aware of during my service with the AIST.
      While AIST researchers sometimes work with their subordinates and part-timers, most of them normally devote themselves to their own research tasks. But I came to feel more motivation in thinking and working with students and fostering students who are willing to contribute to society and universities, and to shoulder the future for all. So I chose a career as university teacher, seizing an opportunity of an offer for a post of assistant professor. In my view, I’m a type of teacher who develops students’ potentials by encouraging them while maintaining sternness. I know I’m viewed as a stern teacher among students, but think it’s okay to some extent.

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1 Father’s advice guided me to  choose the science and technology  course at university.
2 An encounter with Prof. Sloan  motivated me to begin serious  research into clathrate hydrates.
3 I divert myself by jogging to  renew my energy to draw out  students’ potentials.
Profile Ryo Ohmura Dr. Ohmura’s specialties are thermodynamics and physical chemistry. His current research projects are physical chemistry of clathrate hydrates and the development of energy- and environment-related technologies. His activities range widely from basic research to applied research for practical application. After acquisition of a doctor’s degree (engineering) in 2000, he visited France to participate in a hydrate research project. For four years from 2002, he served as a research scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). In 2006, he arrived at his post as an assistant professor of Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology, and then he was promoted to his current post as an associate professor in 2009.
 
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