The Rigakubu News

Disclaimer: machine translated by DeepL which may contain errors.

Representing nature

Kaoru Sugimura, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

She graduated from the Faculty of Science at Kyoto University in 2001, and from the Graduate School of Science at Kyoto University in 2006. After working as a JSPS Research Fellow and a RIKEN special postdoctoral researcher, she became an assistant professor in 2011 and an associate professor in 2017 at Kyoto University. She became an associate professor at the Department of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Faculty of Science, the University of Tokyo in 2021. She was selected as a “NISTEP Researcher” in 2023.

Q. What was your favorite subject as a child?
A. None in particular.
I do not remember finding elementary school classes interesting. Rather, I was annoyed by the forced childishness that adults favored in writing classes. In the upper grades, I began attending a “juku” to prepare for the junior high school entrance examination, and many of the classes stimulated my intellectual curiosity. In Japanese class, the teacher took turns commenting on each student's written answers so we could develop our critical reading skills in a free and open atmosphere. If I were asked about the most useful class in my life, I would probably choose this Japanese class. 

Q. What were you interested in when you were in junior high and high school?
A science experiment in junior high school sparked my interest in basic science research (for details, see the interview article in Rigakuru). However, I attended a peculiar high school that held its final examinations on the day of the National Center Test for University Admissions. So, there was a big gap between my career aspirations and the options available. This led to a lot of anxiety, and I often skipped school. If any undergraduate students feel inferior to their peers who have had outstanding achievements in high school, such as participating in the Science Olympiads, I would tell them not to worry because they, too, can make a living doing the things they love doing. 

Q. What books or textbooks would you recommend to students?
A. " Cell Biology by the Numbers" 
Students can learn how to form a quantitative picture of cells by estimating various “numbers,” such as concentration and velocity. I recommend it even for non-biology students. It is also the reference book for the course “Basics of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology II.” 

Q. What are your hobbies?
A. Growing plants.
I love the way plants change day by day.

Q. Do you think you are lucky?
A. Yes, I do.
I contracted meningitis when I was five weeks old. At one point, it seemed I only had four days to live. Yet, here I am, living without any major long-term effects. 


Let us open up new frontiers of science together!




Published in the March 2024 issue of The Rigaku-bu News

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