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19 May 2011 Pre departure Seminar and Alumni Evening 

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On 20th May 2011 a Pre-Departure Seminar for 4 categories of JSPS Awardees; Summer Programme, Postdoctoral Fellowship Short Term and Standard Term and Invitation Fellowship awardees was held at the JSPS London offices.


The seminar was well attended and started with welcoming remarks from the Director of JSPS London, Professor Kozo Hiramatsu. This was followed by a short self introduction by each participant so similar areas of research and institutions being visited in Japan could be linked. This time a significant number of awardees will be visiting Tokyo and Kyoto Universities. The seminar was presided over by Ms. Polly Watson, International Programme Coordinator of JSPS London who at first explained the purpose of the event and about the different presentations that were to follow.

The first presentation by Mr. Tomo Saito who recently joined JSPS London as Deputy Director, gave an essential introduction to JSPS and general information about the JSPS Post Doctoral Fellowship, both Short Term and Standard Award as well the Invitation Fellowship. Presentations made by other JSPS staff included Mr. Ikuo Fukui who travelled with his colleague Mr. Koji Kurita from JSPS Tokyo especially for the occasion to talk about the structure of the Summer Programme and what would be expected of the fellows.

UK-JSPS Alumni Association members were also invited to talk about their experiences of living and research environments in Japan. Mr. Wil Baker, of Loughborough University and Dr. Chris Arrell of ImperiaL College London, both gave very thoughtful and practical advice about getting the most out of a JSPS Fellowship.

JSPS London was also pleased to have in attendance two guest speakers from other distinguished funding organizations to speak about further funding opportunities to do research in Japan. They were Dr. Hans Hagen, Senior Manager of Grants at the Royal Society and Dr. Edward Clarke, Senior International Manager of the EPSRC who was accompanied by Dr. Luannne Thomas, the Infrastructure and International Manager at the EPSRC.

The seminar ended with a questions and discussion session giving participants the chance to raise questions and concerns about JSPS programmes. Areas covered included an update on the effects of the March 11th earthquake and how JSPS Fellowships would be affected in the event of a further natural disaster as well as advice on Japanese etiquette, obtaining visas, accommodation options and payment of allowances.

A link to each presentation given during the seminar can be found in the programme for the event below:

16:30-18:00 Pre-Departure Seminar

1. Opening Remarks
Professor Kozo Hiramatsu, Director, JSPS London Office

2. Self-introduction from each JSPS Awardee

3. Introduction to JSPS and Information about the JSPS Post Doctoral Fellowship
Mr.Tomo Saito, Deputy Director of JSPS London

4. The Royal Society's Exchanges and Collaborations with Japan
Dr. Hans Hagen, Senior Manager, International Grants, the Royal Society

5. Practical Information for JSPS Summer Programme Fellows
Mr. Ikuo Fukui, JSPS Fellows Plaza, JSPS Tokyo

6. Research Experience in Japan
Mr. Wil Baker, Loughborough Design School, Loughborough University

7. Research Environment in Japanese and UK Institutions
Dr. Christopher Arrell, Department of Physics, Imperial College London

8. EPSRC Funding Opportunities and International Strategy
Dr. Edward Clarke, Senior International Manager

9. Questions and Discussion
18:30-20:30 UK-JSPS Alumni Association Evening

1. Introduction to the UK-JSPS Alumni Association
Dr. Martyn Kingsbury, UK-JSPS Alumni Association Chair.

20:30 Depart

Guest Speakers:

Mr. Antonio Caraballo-Oritz
Mr. Wil Baker, Loughborough University

Mr. Antonio Caraballo-Oritz
Dr. Christopher Arrell, Imperial College London

Mr. Antonio Caraballo-Oritz
Dr. Hans Hagen, The Royal Society

Mr. Antonio Caraballo-Oritz
Dr. Edward Clarke, EPSRC

After the pre-departure seminar, the UK-JSPS Alumni Association held an alumni evening for networking among members and new JSPS fellows in a relaxed atmosphere. Dr. Martyn Kingsbury, the Chair of the UK-JSPS Alumni Association, gave an opening speech in which he talked about the work of the UK-JSPS Alumni Association for the benefit of the newest fellows present. He mentioned in particular the progress of the two alumni re-visitation schemes and the alumni symposium scheme which are funding programmes exclusive to members.

Comments from attendees:

"It was useful to have people from JSPS, Royal Society and the EPSRC to talk about different funding options available for research scientists. It will be a big help for people who are thinking about pursuing academic/research career. The talks by previous awardees were also very informative. They gave us an idea of what to expect whilst in Japan as well as some of the preparation that needed to be done prior to departure. Precisely what a pre-departure meeting should be. The Q&A session at the end of the meeting was also very useful especially with the recent situation in Japan regarding the earthquake and tsunami. Finally, it was nice to be able to meet other JSPS fellows (past and present) at the Alumni evening. By having the chance to get each other’s contact details, we can help each other with settling in Japan if needed. Thanks again JSPS for such a wonderful evening."

Ms.Yuya Lin (Oxford University), JSPS Short Term Postdoctoral Fellow.

"I found it a very helpful (and reassuring) experience. It was good to meet the other fellows, and I thought it was a nice idea to have everyone introduce themselves, as it helped to show the range of research which is going on, and to exchange ideas. From a practical point of view it was useful to have the tips on acclimatising to Japanese life, and I especially enjoyed the reports given of their stay by the two young postdoc fellows, who were so enthusiastic and really conveyed a sense of what their work and social life in Japan had been like. They were great! I loved the photos and full reports of what they had found different about research culture in their institutions, as well as the feedback they gave about Japanese universities and working practice. It was also particularly helpful to meet the JSPS alumni and to chat about future funding possibilities, and the ways in which the research begun during my stay might be continued. I hadn’t been aware before of the specific scholarships offered by the alumni association. I very much appreciated it, thank you JSPS for organising it."

Finally, JSPS London would like to wish all of our new fellows a successful research trip to Japan and we hope they will join the UK-JSPS Alumni Association on their return to the UK.

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