Ten female university students successfully complete TOMODACHI-STEM@Rice University Program in Houston and Washington, D.C. after six-week research and internship program
The ten women of the TOMODACHI-STEM @ Rice University Program visited Washington, D.C. at the end of March for the last week of their six-week program.
Prior to their visit to Washington, D.C., the participants spent five weeks in Houston conducting research in a lab connected to their major and fields of interest at Rice University. In Houston, the first two weeks of the program consisted of various tours, panel discussions and seminars to get accustomed to the area and gain helpful insights from students and professors at the Rice University. One of the students who joined the participants was Natsumi Komatsu, a PhD candidate, 2015 TOMODACHI Sumitomo Corporation Scholarship Program scholar and 2017 STEM @ Rice University alumna. Natsumi spent several days connecting with the participants while facilitating panel discussions and serving as a guide on multiple expeditions around Houston. Spending an extended period in Houston, they had a chance to explore the community as well as attend the Houston Rodeo, receive talks about the Japanese-American experience in Academia and visit the Houston Operations Center of the Dow Chemical Company.
In Washington, DC, the scholars sat down with USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye to discuss their research experience on the TOMODACHI program at Rice University in Houston. Their majors range from Aerospace Engineering, Astrophysics, and Physics to Pharmaceuticals, Biology and Chemistry. Much of the dialogue centered on ideas for increasing female representation and leadership in the STEM fields. Many came from universities where there are few other women as faculty or students in their departments. They also shared what made them choose to major in a science field – family members in the sciences, opportunities to explore the sciences in high school and simple interest in the topic area. The conversation concluded with the women talking about the challenges they’ve overcome and what they have learned in the course of the program.
Shoko Sano, University of Tokyo, said that her experience working in the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab has helped her to see the direct connection between how science and technology can directly impact and benefit society. While in DC, the scholars also visited the Department of Energy and the Japan Society of the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
This program is generously funded Dow Chemical Japan.