Bulletin of Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology
  kyurizukai interview  
09 Kiyotake Suenaga 3 Putting much importance on time for communicating  with family and students

phtoYour research work seems to require great endurance.
What are you doing for diversion?

      My hobby is listening to music. Soon after joining the university, I began going to concerts in and around Nagoya. At one time, I went to concerts 50 to 60 times a year. Do you know there are nine professional orchestras in Tokyo? It’s an exceptional boon to classical music enthusiasts like me. I’m a subscriber of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. Yesterday I went to a concert by the NHK Symphony Orchestra. At some concerts, childcare services are even available, which allows me to place my small sons (aged 6 and 3) under childcare. Sometimes I take my 9-year-old daughter to concerts, but she often sleeps during the performance. I think it’s OK because I frequent concerts for my own pleasure (laughter). Anyway, enjoying music is truly refreshing.
      I’m also trying to spare as much time as possible for communicating with my children. It’s my rule to eat breakfast and dinner with my small ones. Since my home is close to the campus, I go home for dinner and take care of their bathing, then go back to the campus again for work. Being with children is another diversion for me.

What a wonderful papa! How are you dealing with your students?
      You may call me a strict teacher. Every week we have one rinko session where lab students take turns reading a textbook written in English, a magazine meeting where students introduce scientific journals they have read, and a study meeting where they learn about instrumental analysis. Of the over ten lab students, five take charge of such meetings every week, meaning that one student will take charge of one meeting every two to three weeks. This is a rather heavy burden on the students as it requires significant amount of preparatory study.
      Experiments are one important thing, but there is another more important thing; I would like my students to build up their academic capability by learning broadly. Concerning our specialty, I’d like them to acquire comprehensive knowledge of organic chemistry. Suppose a student who is engaged in isolation and structural determination lacks knowledge of organic synthesis reactions, or a student who is focused on synthesis of a natural product knows nothing about biosynthesis. I don’t want my students to be like that.
      Looking back at myself, I was thoroughly educated during my student days. In those days, we were not allowed to cut corners in experiments for the sake of learning at the desk. So it was often the case that I studied at the desk while completing preparations on the testing bench so a reaction would take place. A research report meeting was scheduled on one Monday but my experiment conducted on Friday of the preceding week didn’t go well, which annoyed me. At the time, one of my seniors said, “Have you ever thought about why a research report meeting is held on Monday?” I understood his suggestion was that I should do the experiment over the weekend. I don’t say such a thing to my students, but our lab’s study meeting held on Saturday may be because of that experience during my student days. In retrospect, many of the tough experiences I had as a student are now proving to be assets for me. A friend of mine who found employment with a private company says the same thing.

Just a word from . . .
Student M : I have an unforgettable memory. Due to our mistake or other reason, we knew that our reservation for rooms at a family-run inn in Tokunoshima Island was not made. In the gathering dusk, I solicited the inn to provide us with two rooms (connected) somehow or other and finally secured the rooms. Even under such circumstances, we energetically gathered cyanobacteria as we normally would. Our teacher’s power is always a driving force for us students.
Student N : I joined this lab because it has been my wish to create a variety of substances by using organic chemical reactions. I’m happy and comfortable here because I’m allowed to do almost whatever I want. When I’m in trouble, my teacher thinks together with me and is willing to listen to my proposals.

(Reporter & and text writer: Akiko Ikeda)

 

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1 An encounter with a great teacher
2 Starting a researcher’s life
3 Putting much importance on time for communicating with family  and students
Profile Kiyotake Suenaga Dr. Suenaga’s specialty is marine natural product chemistry. He is engaged in exploration of biologically active substances. Currently, his focus is on marine cyanobacteria. In 1992, he was enrolled in Nagoya University’s Graduate School of Science. In 1995, he left the doctor’s course to become a research assistant for the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science of the university. In 1997, he acquired a doctor’s degree (in science). After serving as a research assistant for Shizuoka Prefectural University (Pharmaceutical Department) then as an assistant professor for the University of Tsukuba (Department of Chemistry), in 2006 he assumed the current position as an associate professor for Department of Chemistry, Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology. Dr. Suenaga was honored with the Inoue Research Award for Young Scientists in 1998 and the Chemical Society of Japan Award for Young Chemists in 2003.
 
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