Cultural and Research Diversity at Kyoto University

Guest post written by Kyoto University Amgen Scholar Grace Njuguna
Oct 18, 2017 1:55 PM ET

The Japan Amgen Scholars Program gives an opportunity to students from every part of the world to come together and participate in research in different branches of science. This year, I was privileged to be part of the Amgen Scholars 2017 cohort, which consisted of 44 international students and 4 students from Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo.

One the best parts of the experience was sightseeing with Kyoto University. Japan is a country rich in cultural sites especially the Kyoto Prefecture, a historical city, which is also identified with many shrines and temples that represent the religious beliefs of the Japanese people. We visited several temples and shrines within the Kyoto, such as Kyomizu-dera, Kinkakuji and Chion-in temples, and I had a wonderful experience with visiting the scenic beauties and experiencing the cultural diversity of the Japanese people. I even had the opportunity to experience the way of dressing by putting on the Kimono attire with the other scholars.

I also greatly enjoyed this year's symposium, which was hosted by the University of Tokyo. All the 48 scholars came together to showcase their research projects. It was intriguing for me to see the kinds of research that other scholars had undertaken from fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

The symposium commenced with a Tokyo tour with visits to the National Diet and Tokyo Museum. The following day included a lecture by project associate Professor Hideyuki Yanai, speeches, and a get-together session where the 2015 Amgen scholars shared their experiences after the program. In the afternoon, the Kyoto Amgen Scholars did both oral and poster presentation. The day concluded with a symposium dinner on Yakata-bune. The next day, the University of Tokyo scholars did both oral and poster presentations, which were followed by a lecture by Prof. Tatsushi Igaki, an address by Dr. Sachiko Yoshimoto and closing remarks from the program director Prof. Fuyuki Ishikawa.

What stood out for me most during the symposium was the keynote speech on unlocking the secrets of biology with new technologies by Dr. Ming-Qiang Zhang, head of Amgen's Asia research and development center in Shanghai.

The lectures and my general experience in Japan has enabled me gain a lot in terms of research skills, exposure to different forms of technologies in addition to acquiring friends from different parts of the world.

Grace Njuguna’s home institution is the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. Her 2017 Amgen Scholar research at Kyoto University was about fluorescence spectra in Japanese Dace fish for fish freshness evaluation.

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