Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.56

Youngsters from Indonesia and Vietnam experience advanced research in the field of biotechnology & chemistry

Report from University of Fukui

In a program administered by Fukui University, a total of nine students and faculty members were invited from universities in three different countries, including undergraduates, graduate students, and young faculty members from China (Tianjin Polytechnic University), Vietnam (The University of Da Nang), and Indonesia (Universitas Jenderal Soedirman) from the 14th to the 23rd of January, 2018.

In this program, the aim was not only to simply extend one’s area of specialty, but also, to have an overview of complex research themes from a broad and international perspective, to cultivate students and young researchers who can present solutions to the problems of society at large, and to cultivate more practical and global human resources, by mutually exchanging research findings through the approach of different research fields.

Here, research, development and mutual exchange in the fields of biotechnology and chemistry were performed within an international cooperation system, by exchanging research findings, not only between the students who participated directly in the program, but also involving many students of the laboratory which accepted the students. Specifically, the technical acquisition of research and technology seeds (Nanofibers, biosensors, heat-resistant proteins, composite materials, cell engineering) possessed by the faculty members of the laboratories related to the accepted students, and research and technology seeds (Spectroscopic analysis, nanoparticles, microorganisms, materials engineering, environmental & chemistry analysis etc.) possessed by the exchange school, and the exploration of new issues through research presentations and discussions was made possible.

image1 Looking across Fukui city from the university research building

They came to Japan on January 14, 2018, and training was started. A heavy snowfall was expected during February in Fukui, though this time (which was one month earlier) there was already considerable snow fall, and the invitees were very pleased with the “Gift from the sky”.

image2 Thrilled with first snow experience

The theme was exchange between different research fields, and at first the poster presentations of research achievements of the students of this university and the invited students were held at the workshop. There was a heated argument, and it became a valuable experience that stimulated thoughts on “What to do to convey one’s research contents to other parties” for both the invitees and students of this university. In addition, the invitees who have not been attached to the laboratory, presented their culture and state of their university, and it became an opportunity to get to know each other’s characteristic culture.

image3 Commemorative photograph after poster presentation
(State of feeling completely at home with the host students)

In practical training, they learned extensively about the production of nanofibers from basic operations such as quantitative determination of antibiotics by microorganisms and purification of thermostable enzymes, to the development of things such as application to cell culture and construction of biosensors. The antibiotics experiment was also an experiment for third-year students of the Department of Biology & Applied Chemistry, and the invitees made an unofficial participation with the usual group, and here also an active exchange between the students took place.

image4 Evaluating the nanofibers they created
image5 Antibiotics experiment using microorganisms

In the tours both inside and outside of the university, they were able to get exposed to the most advanced analytical instruments and facilities such as on the field trip to the Measurement and Technology Support Department of Headquarters for Innovative Society-Academia Cooperation of this university, Industrial Technology Center of Fukui Prefecture, and Laboratory of Nikka Chemical Co., Ltd. Invitees could be heard saying that “In the future I would like to do research using the equipment available here”.

On holidays, they visited the Fukui municipal local history museum and studied the history of Fukui, and the main attraction here was the Japanese clothing try-on session. Both men and women asked curators of the museum to help them wear the kimonos. The women were spellbound by the fascinatingly elegant kimono and loved it very much.

image6 Makeover into Japanese clothes

On Sunday, they toured the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (FPDM) while taking a short trip to Katsuyama City on Echizen Railway. At the museum, ceremonial tea service was held by a local group on that day, and the invitees also enjoyed the light refreshment and tea respectfully and sacredly. On the final day, they visited a sake (Japanese rice wine) brewery and learned the details of sake such as making rice malt and brewing of unrefined sake.

image7 Experiencing tea ceremony, with a bit of nervousness
image8 Making rice malt essential to sake

The students and staff who participated in this program were extremely pleased that they had an opportunity to familiarize themselves and learn about the extensive education and research environment of Japan through experiments and practical training. There was consultation on how to proceed with their own research from the graduate students, and it was a great harvest to be able to get various guidance.

Last, but certainly not least, they expressed their gratitude to the SAKURA Exchange program in science for providing such a valuable opportunity.