Institution: Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Department of Physics
Host Institution in Japan: Ehime University, Graduate
School of Science and Engineering
Host researcher: Prof. Tamotsu Zako
Fellowship period: 2018.10.15 – 2018.11.28
In the very end of September 1988 I arrived at Chitose airport (Sapporo) for my first postdoctoral experience in Japan. I knew very little about Japan at that time. It happened so that my first year of living in Japan coincided with the last year of the Showa dynasty. Apart from the sad passing of the emperor, it was a very joyful and progressive time with optimism and creativity in all sectors of Japanese society. The students in the lab were bright and respectful, and taught me how to enjoy the Japanese culture and food. This was easy as I was still an openminded student, and have continued to keep it that way in my research ever since. So, for me to get another opportunity to visit Japan as an established professor and a BRIDGE fellow, I felt really very grateful. Not only did it commemorate my 30-year experience and continuous research exchange with Japan, it was also an opportunity to establish new research projects with my host, Professor Tamotsu Zako at Ehime University.
I got to know Professor Zako in 2008 when he was working at Riken in Saitama, as a young promising scientist. It stimulated joint projects between Japan, Norway and Sweden around detection of amyloid proteins. Now we are both part of a Norwegian-Japanese bilateral research exchange initiative of Kyoto International Forum for Environment and Energy (KIFEE). The purpose with the BRIDGE proposal and project was to ‘re-iniate’ collaboration with Professor Zako in his recently established lab at Ehime University. I acted as a daily supervisor of four different students’ projects and we generated many experimental results using spectroscopy, microscopes and biochemical techniques. As I am experienced in spectroscopy and microscopy (applied physics) and Zako-lab is oriented from biochemistry, it gave very stimulating results, and we had a lot of fun in the lab and many opportunities to learn from each other. It was both very practical and stimulating to get an ordinary desk among the students. Besides day-to-day activities with many students in the lab, there was also time for social activities such as tako-yaki and some weekend trips to explore the mountains and the shores of beautiful Shikoku Island. I was also invited to participate in a mini work-shop about ‘insulin treatment and amyloidosis’ in Tsukuba on Nov 9, 2018 and had the opportunity to discuss with many of Professor Zako’s collaborators within the medical application field. I also visited the lab of Professor Kazunari Akiyoshi of Kyoto University and delivered a seminar there.
I am very confident and happy to have participated in the BRIDGE Fellowship Program. It has renewed and strengthened our collaboration, indirectly also with other partners in Japan, Norway and Sweden. Very recently we submitted a joint proposal to the Research Council of Norway. Personally, I found it very stimulating to work among and together with the excellent students of the host lab. I noticed that in these short six weeks it inspired them to work harder, also with communication and presentation in English. I received very positive feedback and response from the students, who made even greater efforts into their scientific work when they were challenged with some ‘extra’ supervision. Concerning the practical and logistic aspects of the JSPS BRIDGE Fellowship Program, it was both effective and sufficient. Housing and travel issues were solved smoothly with assistance from the excellent administration at Ehime University.
On weekend camp to Kuma-kougen with students of Zako-lab