New Kyurizukai

Did you choose the career of a biological researcher in a natural course of development?
      No, to tell the truth. For example, there are insect researchers on one hand and, on the other hand, there are those who enjoy collecting insects as a hobby. I had long thought that there is a distinction between the two groups. In my graduate school days when I was studying under Professor Satoh, it was difficult for me to have confidence in living as a researcher. At the time, I had five classmates at the lab, one of them was a brilliant person known as “one of the best four from Kyoto University” and was writing theses on his own as a young student. Another, from the University of Tokyo, was full of the pioneer spirit so much so that he created a rearing system for appendicularian (“Otama-boya” in Japanese) in a wish to investigate appendicularian, a field left untouched. On the contrary, my awareness of biology as a newcomer to the lab remained at a level so low as to think “Living things are interesting.” So, at the beginning I was embarrassed at the great gap between my fellow students. But after a lapse of time, I became absorbed in research before I knew it.
      Impetuses for my awakening were delights and a sense of achievements I had when I made presentations at academic conferences and presented theses, which gained recognition. Because I was thinking that the outcome of studies should be returned to society, I then became confident to continue my career as a researcher.
      This confidence, I’m sure, is indebted to the Satoh lab because the lab has a culture of valuing even small discoveries and has made it a rule to publish students’ research achievements in the form of theses to the extent possible. The lab kindly prepared a system of rewarding students for their hard work.
      Now finding myself in a position to guide students, I’m trying to do the same. Of course, when it comes to the world of research, you cannot always expect good results no matter how hard you have worked. Even so, I’d like my students to experience the excitement of making a discovery, so I’m willing to advise my students so that they can set good (prospective) research policies that could yield praiseworthy results. Naturally, I encourage them to publish the result of their study in the form of a thesis or other.

The students receiving your guidance are happy, aren’t they?
photo      I’m not sure (laughter). For example, when I suggest, “Why don’t you try this way?” they sometimes respond by saying, “It’s nonsense!” There is also what they call “Hotta Magic.” I don’t understand exactly what it means, but presumably it means that the material a student has prepared for presentation can be reversed overnight by me, Hotta, to almost zero (something suddenly disappears, hence Magic) – the worst scenario that students can imagine. It may sound like an excuse, but I’m merely correcting what should be corrected when I have noticed it because it is my belief that any academic presentation should be consistently logical.
      I’d like my students to accumulate experiences outside the campus as much as possible, so I take them to academic conferences and other occasions if they have commendable achievements. In the meantime, I convey to them the difficulty and strictness involved in biological research by saying that their experiments will bear fruit only after repeating the process of trial and error over and over again.