The Department of Genetics, SOKENDAI, wants to bring up true scientists. For this purpose I would like to give a message to students who are interested in science, explaining what is a scientist and how people educate scientists in a graduate school.
Scientists are people who solve the mystery of nature and thereby enhance the intelligence of the human race. Science was formerly called natural philosophy, which originated from curiosity for nature. Later, people found that the products of science enrich human life and entrusted to scientists the role of research and education in the society.
The motives to become a scientist may vary widely: desire to know the cause of natural phenomena, experience of the wonder of nature, love of books in science, recommendation by teachers, etc. While the initial motives may be simple, it is in graduate schools where students learn various disciplines more deeply, feel more sympathy to science, and become independent scientists through the experience of failure and success in research.
The work of scientists is both pleasant and hard. Hardness is due to the difficulties in generating frontiers of science, and pleasure is due to the quiet happiness of concentrating on research as well as the joy of success after a long time of failure.
I encourage also female students to become scientists. Although women are still in the minority among scientists, there are no gender differences in overall scientific abilities. Great advance in science is expected if more women participated in the scientific community.
Most scientists nowadays find their job mainly in universities, laboratories, and research divisions of companies. However, our world has so many problems and difficulties, and the society needs scientists to solve such problems. It may be necessary for some scientists to explore new working places. Connection with the society is an important factor for scientists to have a happy and meaningful life.
In the undergraduate level, students learn what is already known. In contrast, in graduate schools, students must identify their own problem, conduct research to discover something new, write scientific papers, and discuss their results with others. These are the processes through which students grow up to become independent scientists. An important role of mentors in a graduate school is to draw out the potential of students and help them acquire the methods of science through advice and discussion in seminars and laboratory meetings.
Also important in graduate education is to provide an environment in which students can grow up healthily. Students need an environment that allows concentration on research and provides stimulation from excellent scientists around them. As a member of the scientific community, students themselves have the role of stimulating others through advancing their research and disseminating their ideas at scientific meetings.
I hope this explanation will be useful for you. See the homepage for the principles and facts about education in the Department of Genetics. Although I did not explain what is exciting in genetics and life science, I hope you can learn it by reading popular or more specialized books in these fields as well as the web site of each laboratory in our institute.
Head, Department of Genetics, SOKENDAI