SIYSS: A Milestone Experience

With Dr. Satoshi Omura, the 2015 Nobel laureate(From left to right: Takumi Ohashi, Dr. Omura, Hitomi Sasamori from Hokkaido University)
With Dr. Satoshi Omura, the 2015 Nobel laureate
(From left to right: Takumi Ohashi, Dr. Omura,
Hitomi Sasamori from Hokkaido University)

Takumi Ohashi
1st-year doctoral student
Department of Electronics and Applied Physics
Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering

Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS) is an annual weeklong event for young international scientists along with the Nobel week. This year, it hosted 25 young scientists chosen from all over the world, which I had the honor to take part. The seminar is designed to facilitate interaction among the participants through various events, such as Nobel festivities, discussion on ethics in science and technology, and presentations of our own research work for over 500 local high school students.

Why did you participate in SIYSS?

In the future, I would like to contribute to education in developing countries. Before entering Tokyo Tech, I wanted to be a teacher who could show multiple options to the students based on my own experiences. This changed drastically during my three-month internship when I took the Global Science and Engineers Course at Tokyo Tech. I was sent to the water supply and sewage authority in Bangladesh as one of the representatives of Japan. However, it did not take long for me to realize that the knowledge and skills that I had then, were not sufficient to do any good for the issues facing Bangladesh. Problems were deep-rooted and I needed to have at least one strength if I were to start making any difference. In other words, I need to have the ability not only to show different options based on my experiences but also to design the future society with these strengths. This experience made me focus more on science and technology along with education. Needless to say, I applied to SIYSS to gain more insight on science and technology. Further, I wanted to have a lot of discussions with great young scientists from various countries to broaden my horizons in search of an ideal education.

What did you learn from exchanges with the laureates and the young scientists?

In conversations with other participants, I was so surprised at how knowledgeable they were about various international issues and how concrete their opinions were on each topic. Additionally, they had good skills to deliver their opinions to the listeners. That experience made me think how they would gather information and analyze it to form their opinions: There were good indications based on their responses to my questions in one of the SIYSS events, an ethics seminar. We were given very tough questions on ethical issues but unfortunately insufficient time to discuss them fully. Nonetheless, my peers tried to construct their opinions in detail with their background and knowledge. I have come to believe that it must be the result of their attitudes toward various problems they face on a daily basis, which led to my resolution to broaden my view on the world issues from what I had before.

When I took part in the reception held by the Japanese embassy, I had a remarkable opportunity to talk with Dr. Satoshi Omura, Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine. Because of my experiences, and my interest in education in developing countries, I asked Dr. Omura, who has conducted research for other people in various countries, what was the most important consideration for conducting a project focused overseas. "Human network and connections are the most important things", he said. He emphasized that connections with others are the platform for producing fruitful results. I realized that since we cannot do anything without others, it is necessary for me to clarify how I want to engage with a large-scale challenge such as education in developing countries. This lesson became one of my important milestones in considering my future career.

I am amazed at how much I have learned from talking with the laureates and the young scientists during the Nobel week. I was so moved when I participated in the Nobel-related events especially when Dr. Omura and Dr. Takaaki Kajita received the prize from the King of Sweden. I was so proud of the fact that I'm also Japanese.

I would like to express my gratitude to all who let me have these wonderful opportunities. I will try hard to achieve my goals in the future, with these precious lessons from my time with SIYSS.

SIYSS participants and their host students

SIYSS participants and their host students

Photo courtesy of The Japan Prize Foundation

Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin No. 41 (February, 2016)