On January 24th, in order to train one of the abilities highlighted in this program “Designing ability”, a round-table discussion on “How to connect research with society –museum initiatives” was held. Three teachers were invited who were science graduates of the Department of Comparative Studies of Societies and Culture, the predecessor of The Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Global Society. This seminar was planned as a sequel of last year’s event “A gathering with humanity graduates of the school” (On January 19-20, 2018).
The first presenter was Dr. Tatsuya Ide (National Museum of Nature and Science) and he gave a lecture entitled “Small insects connect past and future”. He talked about his work at the Museum and his experience since he was in high school until he was a postdoctoral researcher.
When he belonged to a Biology club in high school, he realized that there were so many insects exist around him, more than he thought, and since then, he has been interested in insects and been engaged in research.
At the National Museum of Nature and Science where he belongs, there are three main jobs – “Research and study”, “Collecting materials and preservation” and “Display and academic support”. Currently more than fifty researchers are working on those three areas by cooperating with staff members and skilled staff members. Regarding the research, in recent years, there has been project research conducted (such as inventory research in field of biology) across different specialties or research groups. But he said his experience discussing subjects with people from different fields during his graduate school era and the analyzing skills he acquired during his research for his doctoral thesis have greatly helped him until now. However, it is not easy for one researcher to do all three different jobs at the same time, so he mentioned that it is important to think about where you want to put your focus.
Also, it left a strong impression on students when he said that for him a museum is a precious place where he can share his professional knowledge with people and where he can greatly utilize his knowledge and experience that he acquired both from his school days and from when he was a postdoctoral researcher.
The second presenter. Dr. Kazuhiro Masunaga (Lake Biwa Museum), gave a lecture entitled “How to connect research with real society –museum initiatives”. He talked about enjoyment of studying insects and what he thought about how to renew the museum.
Dr. Masunaga has been engaged in research about “Dolichopodidae” since he was in biology class in Ropponmatsu. Dolichopodidae, a kind of fly, is a genus of diptera and inhabit in a reef, tideland and mountain stream. Among diptera, it is rare species because it used to be a terrestrial species but adapted to the marine environment later. It makes for very interesting research material for considering biological evolution.
After he started to work at Lake Biwa Museum, and while he was traveling all over the world to collect samples for creating genetic phylogenetic trees of the same genus, he was also involved in the renewal of the museum. He talked about how to tell many people about how interesting it is to do research, and how he placed specimens in the exhibition room and universal design facility.
It left a strong impression on the students when he mentioned that having limited knowledge of one’s professional field cannot be helped at the beginning, and that after you have started working in that field, it is very important that you learn with people and get involved with people from different fields when you are in school and graduate school.
The last presenter was Dr. Naoki Ikegami (Mifune Dinosaur Museum) who gave a lecture entitled “Why dig a dinosaur? – Challenges of a small museum and the daily work of a curator.” He talked about the role of a museum in providing opportunities for studying as well as the professional work of curators.
Dr. Ikegami has been involved in the establishment and management of the museum since he had discovered a fossil of Japan’s first carnivorous dinosaur during his research for graduate school. He thinks that any kind of museum has four roles to play. They are research study, collecting materials, displaying them, and education. These correspond with stimulating intellectual curiosity, arousing a desire for lifelong study, attracting visitors and supporting their learning.
He also talked about a professional job called “Fossil Cleaning” which is necessity for museums that collect fossils. In museums in Europe and the States, it is common to have this kind of specialist, but we still don’t have them in Japan. To solve this problem, he cooperates with the Museum of the Rockies and they send samples so that this cleaning can be done in Japan as well.
It was very interesting when he quoted the phrase “All the activities of the museum encapsulate education”, however, we also need to share all our activities with people as opportunities to learn and not only focus on educational activities. We felt that it was a very important viewpoint when we think about how to connect research with real society.
There was time for questions and answers at the end of the meeting, and students asked questions such as “What are some differences between life as a researcher at the university and life as a researcher at the museum, and what are some of the pros and cons?” “What’s the ratio of foreign visitors to the museum?” Teachers answered those questions.
At this round-table discussion, science graduates of the school shared their interesting and practical stories based on their experiences and it was a meaningful opportunity.