2019 Participants

Click on the student names below to learn more about our participants in the 2019 TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice University Program! When approved by the host lab, a link to the PDF copy of the student’s final research poster is also posted below.

  Yukina Chiba
Hometown in Japan: Tokyo
University in Japan: Nagoya University
Major & School Year: Biological Sciences, B3: Junior 
Host Advisor: Prof. Bryan Denny, Dept. of Psychological Sciences
Host Lab: Translational Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab
Research Poster (PDF): “Neural Mechanisms of Emotion Regulation Training in Bereaved Spouses”
2nd Place: “Best Poster Presentation Award” 
“Before participating in the program, I did not know how open-minded and enthusiastic the other participants would be. I could not have imagined how much I would enjoy my time with the other participants. Therefore, the TOMODACHI STEM means to create new ties with the tomodachi – not only in the US but also within Japan. I realized the importance of fostering personal connections from your own country in order to further strengthen connections of our future generation with the U.S. In other words, this program gave me an opportunity to greet and form strong bonds with my fellow participants, the tomodachi in Japan, that I would not have been able to meet if I did not participate in this program.” ~ Yukina Chiba 
  Mei Fukuda
Hometown in Japan: Saitama
University in Japan: Tokyo Institute of Technology
Major & School Year: Mathematical & Computing Science, B3: Junior
Host Advisor: Prof. Akane Sano, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Host Lab: Computational Wellbeing Group
Research Poster (PDF): “Predicting Medical Professionals’ Wellbeing Using Wearable and Survey Data”
“Through this wonderful five week program in U.S., this experience has made me completely grow up. Before coming to U.S., I set my personal goals for this program to learn about the research methods and ideas. Now I am confident about what I have learnt and done at Rice, and really looking forward to my future research experiences. My fellow participants became my best friends and it was so exciting to share our thoughts, dreams, and motivations with each other. I strongly recognized that it is not special to make the world our stage, not stay only in our local area, and it would benefit the world if we choose to live without abandoning our possibilities. This program surely made me realize that there are no limitations.” ~ Mei Fukuda
Kyoko Ikeda
Hometown in Japan: Kagoshima
University in Japan: Kyushu University
Major & School Year: Earth & Planetary Science, B3: Junior
Host Advisor: Prof. Helge Gonnermann, Dept. of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences
Host Lab: Gonnermann Lab: Volcanoes, Magmatic Processes, and Fluid Flow 
Research Project: “The Viscosity of Bubbly Magma”
“Internships like the TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice University program are important for students because they help them make better and more informed choices for their future. When we visited Dow Chemical in the U.S., I asked the employees I met there why she or he got this job. Many people shared that when they were a university student they did an internship at a company or in a field where they wanted to work. Having finished their internship, they recognized that this job was not what they want to become. After that internship, they applies for another internship and they finally found the job/field that they wanted to work in. Like this story, there is sometimes a big gap between our dreams and reality. In order to know that gap, taking up the challenge of doing an internship (like TOMODACHI STEM) will enable students to rethink about their future career goals… Through this program, I had the opportunity to meet many people and it enabled me to broaden my perspective. Someday I want to be a bridge between Japan and foreign countries through what I have learned in this program. ~ Kyoko Ikeda
Ayaka Kasamatsu
Hometown in Japan: Tokyo
University in Japan: The University of Tokyo 
Major & School Year: Biology, B3: Junior
Host Advisor: Prof. Peter Lwigale, Dept. of BioSciences
Host Lab: Lwigale Lab: Adventures in Cornea Development
Research Project: “Nephronectin Influences the Localization of Corneal ECM Proteins”
“In Japan, there are not so many opportunities to meet female students in different fields. Through this program, I met nine Japanese students studying STEM and we spent five weeks together. I was impressed that everyone really loved their own fields and was passionate about their studies. At the same time, they were very respectful for other’s research. I was inspired by all of the other participants to study more, not only about my own field but about other academic fields. I really appreciated the nine best friends who joined together, my host professor and lab members, the program sponsors, and everyone providing me such an wonderful chance to study abroad.” ~ Ayaka Kasamatsu
  Mana Kawashima
Hometown in Japan: Tokyo
University in Japan: Waseda University
Major & School Year: Organic Chemistry, B4: Senior
Host Advisor: Prof. James Tour, Dept. of Chemistry
Host Lab: Tour Research Group
Research Project: “Synthesis of Third Generation of Dipolar Nanocars”
 “I highly recommend every undergrad STEM student to try everything that you are interested in.  When you apply for some programs, you might have worries including about your language ability, knowledge, and networking skills but these programs will be a great chance to strengthen your weak points.  Through this program, I learned that when I do nothing, nothing will happen.  It might be easy to do nothing but trying something will give you a wonderful future. ” ~ Mana Kawashima
  Natsuki Minakawa
Hometown in Japan: Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture
University in Japan: Osaka University 
Major & School Year: Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, B2: Sophomore
Host Advisor: Prof. Ashutosh Sabharwal, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering (for research overview website click here)
Host Lab:  Scalable Health Labs: Mobile Bio-Behavioral Sensing 
Research Project: “Graphical User Interface for Non-Invasive Micro-Vasculature and Blood Perfusion Imaging”
“I applied for this program because I want to make myself grow in America. I have heard that Houston is famous as a place where cutting-edge medical technology is gathered. Researchers at Rice University also frequently conduct cooperative research with institutions in the nearby Texas Medical Center. Moreover, I have also heard that at Rice University I can obtain the most valuable education in America. That’s why when I heard about this program, I was really sure that if I was accepted, I will be able to improve my knowledge and experience related to my major. It is also a precious chance for me to study and work with excellent students from all over the world. After I come back to Japan, I want to continue to keep good relations with them and I believe that their presence will motivate me to study even harder than before.” ~ Natsuki Minakawa
Mariko Mizogami
Hometown in Japan: Tokyo 
University in Japan: Waseda University 
Major & School Year: Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, B3: Junior 
Host Advisor: Prof. Devika Subramanian, Dept. of Computer Science
Host Lab: Subramanian Group
Research Poster (PDF): “Delineating Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes Cohorts with Machine Learning”
1st Place: “Best Poster Presentation Award” 
“Before I joined this program, I knew that I was interested in Data Science, yet, I was not 100 percent sure if I had enough interests and competence to conduct data science research on the international stage. However, having had hands-on research experience at Rice University, now I can say with confidence that I am eager to study Data Science and use these skills to solve real word problems. Although there were some hard times when I got stuck or could not get the results I expected, I truly enjoyed learning new data analysis techniques and discussing the results I got with my mentor and host professor. I still need to learn more to be a Data Scientist in the future; however, I am so glad that I was able to confirm my interests in Data Science through this program. In that sense, I think this program is a perfect opportunity for undergraduate students to figure out their interests and what they want to do in the future.” ~ Mariko Mizogami 
Yurina Nakazato
Hometown in Japan: Okinawa
University in Japan: The University of Tokyo 
Major & School Year: Physics, B2: Sophomore 
Host Advisor: Prof. Frank Geurts, Dept. of Physics & Astronomy 
Host Lab: Ultrarelavistic Heavy-Ion Physics Lab
Research Poster (PDF): “Identifying the Particles Produced by Au+Au Collisions” 
“The meaning of the TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice University program to me is the great opportunity to interact with a lot of female STEM researchers and to learn about the differences in education and jobs between Japan and the U.S. It is said that the rate of female researchers in Japan is the smallest in the all developed countries. In particular, the rate of female researchers in physics is much smaller than other fields such as biology, chemistry and data science. Through this program, I could meet a lot of female researchers and female STEM students. I could interview them and learn about their attitudes and ways of thinking as a woman in STEM. I would not be able to have such a wonderful opportunity in Japan.” ~ Yurina Nakazato
Haruka Sumi
Hometown in Japan: Osaka
University in Japan: Osaka Prefecture University
Major & School Year: Biology, B2: Sophomore
Host Advisor: Prof. Yizhi Jane Tao, Dept. of BioSciences
Host Lab: Tao Lab: Crystallography, Electron Microscopy, and Molecular Virology
Research Poster (PDF): “Express and Purify the Capsid Protein (CP) of Human Astrovirus (HAstV) VP90⁷¹⁻⁷⁸² to uncover the structure of CP”
Winner: 3d Place Award “Best Poster Presentation”
 “Thanks to TOMODACHI STEM program, my motivation was improved. After going back to Japan, I started to join laboratory tours in some universities to know more about their research topics and discover which topic I am most interested in. I am surprised to find myself more active and positive than before joining this program… I may not find have found this significant key for my future goals if I had not participated in this program. I really appreciate this program and people who supported us. I believe future participants will also find something which helps them reach their future goals through this program.” ~ Haruka Sumi
Masami Tsukagoshi
Hometown in Japan: Takayama
University in Japan: Shinshu University 
Major & School Year: Animal Science, B3: Junior 
Host Advisor: Prof. Natasha Kirienko, Dept. of BioSciences
Host Lab: Kirienko Lab: Caenorhabditis elegans
Research Poster (PDF): “Role of Kinases in Caenorhabditiselegans Immunity Against Pseudomonasaeruginosa PA14″
“This program provided me with an excellent chance to have true communication beyond both academic and non-academic fields. It was really fun to talk with people from other fields and learn about their area of interests which were completely different from mine. I am now interested not only in biology but also volcanos, dinosaurs, plants, robotics, space, American history, places where others come from and many other things, and trying to keep my eyes open for various information every day.” ~ Masami Tsukagoshi
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