Affiliation and year: Faculty of Agriculture, AMB Course, 1st year
Leo J. Che, an AMB student from the US, was always interested in the ocean, and especially in fish. When asked if his career decision had something to do with his home town in California, he not only agreed, but also told us about his other reasons. “I used to go to Monterey Bay Aquarium, famous for its display of the bay, and my father took me fishing from time to time.” Then he talked about the special topography of Monterey Bay in California, where a large number of diverse marine organisms exist. This had a tremendous impact on him, and helped him to choose marine biology for his research.
Leo J. Che
However, there are more interesting and, in a way, unique reasons as to why Leo came to Tohoku University. The first is that the ocean is shared by many countries, meaning it would be advantageous if he can prepare to work internationally in the future, considering his specialization in marine biology. The second is Fukushima. “It is the first nuclear incident to have happened near the ocean. The Chernobyl accident was not near the ocean, and no other previous nuclear event has occurred on this scale. So it creates a unique opportunity to research things that we otherwise might not be able to explore,” he said. In fact, the nuclear power plant in Fukushima is about 100km from Sendai. Thus it is at far enough to allow one to safely live in Sendai while still being able to meet and learn from many professors in multiple faculties of Tohoku University who continue working on themes related to the disaster of March 2011.
Although many FGL students are hard workers, Leo told us about prior knowledge will definitely help prospective students in their studies. “Be strong at mathematics,” he said with conviction. “You will be required to work with numbers in different ways than you may expect. In addition, it may be difficult for students who aren’t familiar with statistical concepts to understand certain lectures. Some of the lessons seem to assume that you know something that you might not necessarily know,” he advised.
One of the good things about Leo noted about the FGL program is housing. All FGL students seeking bachelor degrees can live at University House Sanjo for two years. While the kitchen has to be shared, each student is allotted a private room. This is a clear difference from the US, where students who live in dorms usually share rooms. “So it is very nice,” he says.
Having accomplished the fall semester by now, Leo is slowly getting a picture of his future career. “I’m sure I want to study ichthyology. After the lab tours with the agricultural department that I did this semester, I’m now looking forward to investigating my field of interest and and clarifying what I'll specialize in.” The Great East Japan Earthquake and following accidents were definitely disturbing occurrences, but many people have set themselves straight and started learning from them. Leo embraces this and intends to keep working across international borders, like the ocean.
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