Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.28

Young Asian Students Study Advanced Research on Algology

Report by Associate Professor Shinya Sato
Fukui Prefectural University

Thanks to support from the SAKURA SCIENCE PLAN, a total of 15 international teachers and students visited the Department of Marine Science and Technology at Fukui Prefectural Univ. from November 14 to 20, 2018. The visiting group consisted of one instructor and two students from Qinghai University (China), one instructor and five students from Viet Tri University of Industry (Vietnam), and one instructor and five students from Prince of Songkla University (Thailand). Visiting students participated in the international exchange program for experiencing experiment technology required for algology research.

The program started with participating students gathering the algae which would be used as research material. It was a beautiful day that was perfect for collecting samples. For students, it was the first time wearing long rubber boots. Thanks to some students who strode boldly into the surf, we were able to collect a sufficient number of samples for the experiment. At first, the students were a little nervous about interacting with each other, but they soon got closer together through the outdoor activities.

Collecting materials for experiments

Back in the laboratory, we started by using microscopes to photograph the collected samples. By using optical microscopes and electron microscopes, we observed microalgae which is an unusual sight. Although the students had difficulty using the unfamiliar microscope equipment, they worked hard to identify the name of the collected samples by comparing them with illustrated reference materials.

Looking into the microscopes

Students also identified the name of samples through cloning, a fundamental molecular biological approach. The fifteen participating students were divided into three groups with different nationalities. In some cases, students in the same group could be seen having in-depth discussions when helping each other with work. For many of the students, it was the first time to conduct experiments using DNA, so they had difficulty at first. Ultimately, all groups were able to conduct successfully experiments without any problems.

Students are intensely focused as they help each other with the experiment.

At the end of the experiment, students tried identifying the names of species using a next-generation sequencer, which is a cutting-edge method. During exercises using computers, the students caught on extremely quickly—it’s amazing what young minds can do!

Students enjoyed exercises using computers

When identifying the species names of microalgae during the program, students experienced a wide range of approaches from the long-used observation with microscopes to advanced DNA methods. By engaging in hands-on experiments, the students were able to achieve a deeper understanding for the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Midway through the program, students were taken on a tour of Fukui City. Starting with a tour of auctions at a fish market, students enjoyed a packed schedule which included making chopsticks, strolling through traditional city neighborhoods, and participating in a tea ceremony held at a temple. In the evening, a party was held at which visiting students and students from Fukui Prefectural Univ. enjoyed talking and deepening their mutual friendships.

Students tried making chopsticks

A presentation was held at the end of the program. All participating students created presentation slides and then gave presentations on research results and their experiences in Japan. There was also a very lively and energetic Q&A session.

Through the program, although it only lasted a short period, the participating students had many opportunities to interact with each other. The students could be seen obtaining better mutual understanding despite having different cultural backgrounds. Moreover, the vigor with which the visiting students engaged in academic activities was an outstanding stimulus to students at Fukui Prefectural Univ. Since the students came from Asian countries, many of them lacked confidence in their English conversation ability. Even so, they actively tried to communicate with each other. This had a positive effect and inspired growth in students from Fukui Prefectural Univ., including taking the initiative to join discussions.

In conclusion, I would like to express my deepest thanks to SAKURA SCIENCE for providing us with this invaluable opportunity.