Research at overseas lab uncovered new knowledge on insect virus

Vol.02 2014.04.01
Yasumasa SAITO From Ibaraki, Japan

Having lived in Canada for 2 years during my elementary school, I do not feel uncomfortable in learning in an English-only environment. Being so, studying at TUAT is very precious to me for all the opportunities of international exchange it has provided me throughout the years.
Recently, I got the chance to participate in a unique program of the United Graduate School of Agricultural Science, which I belong to, and went on an exchange program in the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) for three months from last October to January of this year. It was not for language training, though; the program gave us the chance to conduct joint research in the lab facilities of the host university!
At the moment, I belong to Prof. Yasuhisa Kunimi's lab (Biological Control) and my research is in insect virus, more specifically, in its gene functional analysis. Insect viruses only kill insects and are safe for humans and the environment, so applied research to use these viruses as an alternative to chemical pesticides is very important.
As a visiting researcher at UC Davis, I joined a lab that researched insect hormones metabolisms and could analyze in details how they behave when the insects are infected by insect viruses ? which is my research theme!
UC Davis is a top world-class institution for agricultural research and gathers a wide range of advanced experiment equipment that you normally don't see in Japan. I could also learn some new methods that improved efficiency of experiments that I used to do on a regular basis. On the other hand, I got some avid questions about my field of expertise from the local students. I could feel that the research level of TUAT is also world-level and could gain more confidence there.
Apart from this recent experience overseas, during my master's, I went to Argentina and South Korea to participate in international congresses. After starting my PhD, I was also able to make use of student support programs of TUAT's Innovation Advancement Organization and participated in a workshop in Turkey.
During this summer, I am also planning to participate in an International Congress in Germany and present the results of my research carried out in UC Davis. In this congress, I was elected the student representative of the virus research area and got assigned to coordinate all communication with other students from different countries. Coordinating with world' top class researchers is always a very stimulating experience.

I can say that mastering English and experiencing joint researches and other study programs abroad have definitely broadened my knowledge. In the days to come, I think it has became more and more necessary to go abroad, accumulate even higher-level knowledge and techniques and develop a feedback culture at TUAT's labs.
If I get the chance, I want to go abroad and experience the lab life overseas as a visiting researcher again. And, in the future, I want to make good use of all skills I learned here as a student and hopefully, work in the field of pesticides of a global company.


Yasumasa SAITO From Ibaraki, Japan

Second Year in the PhD course of Biological Production at the United Graduate School of Agriculture, Yasumasa also completed his undergraduate degree in Applied Biological Science and his Master's in Bio-regulation at TUAT. His research field is insect pathogenic viruses of agricultural pests. Having lived in Canada, he is fluent in English and has been accumulating various experiences abroad, in study programs and also in international congresses. Yasumasa is from Ibaraki Prefecture and is 25 now.

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