Experiencing one year of research overseas (University of Washington)

Morimoto (left) with roommates at the Olympic National Park
Morimoto (left) with roommates
at the Olympic National Park

Takuma Morimoto
2nd-year master's degree student
(At time of interview)
Uchikawa Lab, Department of Information Processing,
Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering
Affiliation in University of Washington:
Department of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Buck Lab, University of Washington
September 2013 to August 2014
International Research Opportunities Program (TiROP)

Why did you choose to study at the University of Washington?

There are several renowned professors in my research field, vision science, in the University of Washington, and advanced research is going on there. Thus, the main reason that I chose the University of Washington is that I thought this would be the optimal place for me to brush up my knowledge and skills through research activity. Actually, after I came back to Japan, I realized that it was best choice for me. It was also important that Seattle is a relatively safe place to live compared with other large cities in U.S.

What did you study and research at the University of Washington?

I chose a program that allowed me to do research activity without taking any classes. Under the supervision of Professor Buck, I conducted research using psychophysical techniques to reveal the mechanism of our visual system, especially color vision. This is actually a similar theme to one that I am currently tackling in Tokyo Tech. Fortunately, because we could find some interesting facts, I got an opportunity to present it at an American conference: the Optical Society of America fall vision meeting. Actually, though I was not allowed to get credits, I took some classes related to my field as an auditor.

What are the similarities and differences you found between Tokyo Tech and the University of Washington?

In my opinion, the common point is that students study and conduct research with sincerity and enthusiasm. Research was an impressively high level even though done by students, and through discussion with them I realized they have deep knowledge.

In contrast, one of the different points is that students and postdoctoral fellows gathered from all over the world there. Actually, I had a cohort from The Netherlands, and other labs were international as well. I guess this is a kind of rare situation for Japanese labs.

How will you apply your experience at the University of Washington to your future activities?

I think that knowledge of research that I obtained though study abroad continues to directly assist me even after I came back to Japan. Also, an improvement of English skill is very helpful to read research papers quickly and effectively. Of course, I am sure that the expansion of my sense of value through living abroad is useful whichever way I will choose in the future. Besides, I am considering applying for graduate school in U.S. to take a Ph.D., which never occurred to me before I left Japan (I am planning to extend period of attendance at Tokyo Tech by an extra year).

Suzzallo Library, the central library of the University of Washington
Suzzallo Library, the central library of the University of Washington

The Reading Room in the Suzzallo Library
The Reading Room in the Suzzallo Library

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park