New Kyurizukai

About when did you put research work into full gear?
      As a senior I belonged to a lab specializing in environmental and analytical chemistry. But I was an active member of the basketball club up to October the same year. So it was only after I advanced to the master’s course that I got down to research work seriously.
      However, the theme was not atmospheric research. I began by analyzing pollutants taken from deposits on a lake bottom. By boring cores (cylindrical samples of sediments) and examining them, it was possible to follow changes in contamination in time series. I actually went to a lake at the foot of Mt. Akagi, where I used a rowboat to collect cores.
      But I gradually found myself somewhat unsatisfied with merely analyzing contamination that took place in the past. I wish to really contribute to the health of people – this enthusiasm urged me to investigate into what’s going on NOW. Because of this motivation, I also took up research into the atmosphere when I was in the second year of the master’s course.
      Since I was aiming to become a university teacher, I advanced to the doctor’s course instead of looking for private employment. It was just about then that my advising teacher was retiring, so for my doctor’s course I chose Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT). That said, most of the vitally needed measuring instruments were available only at Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU). Therefore, I had to shuttle between TUAT and TMU frequently.
      The target research theme during my doctor’s course was harmful compounds found in the soil and atmosphere, which consist of benzene ring (a hexagonal ring arrangement consisting of six carbon atoms). I worked to identify their sources and pathways, among others. While organic compounds mainly contain carbon-12 and carbon-13, the ratio between these isotopes varies depending on sources. For example, automobile exhaust contains slightly more carbon-13 whereas burning of wood produces slightly more carbon-12. So I identified their sources by measuring the ratio between carbon-12 and carbon-13. In those days, I often conducted field surveys.