YAMASAKI Mone Interviews with students in the international program in the School of Advanced Science and Engineering

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 4th year undergraduate student



Tell us about yourself. What brought you here?

Well, I’m fully Japanese. I was born in Fukuoka, in the southern part of Japan, and moved with my family to London when I was one year old, and lived there for about seven and a half years. After that, we moved back to Japan, to Yokohama, and lived there for two years. Then we moved to America, to New Jersey, where I graduated from an American high school. I had the option of either staying in America or moving back to Japan. Since I wanted to live in Japan and found that Waseda offers classes in English, I chose to come back.


What are you studying at Waseda?

I’m in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, in the lab under Prof. Yasuhiko Terada. I’m currently working on cell biology research with cancer cells. There’s this one specific protein that my lab found, and I am looking into its function in the centrosome, especially during mitosis, when the cell divides into two daughter cells. For the precise segregation of chromosomes, the formation of bipolar spindles is necessary. It seems like this protein has a function in the centrosome that contributes to this formation.

It involves looking at the cell cycle, at how that protein functions, how it maintains the structure of the centrosome, and how it contributes to the cells accurately dividing into two. I spend a lot of time looking at cells under the microscope.


How is life at Waseda?

I really like it. During my first three years, I was in an a cappella singing club, mostly with Japanese people. That was definitely one of the best decisions I made, joining that club. The club was composed of students from different universities, who are studying in different fields, from music to nursing. The people were unique and friendly, and I really hope I can stay in touch with them.

Waseda has a huge variety of students. I was able to make connections with students from all around the world through the international program, with students in the field of chemistry through my laboratory, and with students with the same hobby through my club. So Waseda is a place where you can meet people. That’s one reason I like it.

People support each other here. One of my close friends is in the Department of Applied Chemistry, and we took the same laboratory classes. We got really close because you can’t do it by yourself.

I started in September, rather than the usual April, because I graduated from American high school in July and wanted to enroll in the international course, and one of the good things about it is the classes are very small.


So starting in September is that different?

Things may have changed since I entered Waseda in 2015, but back then, the April entrance program and the September entrance program were completely separated from each other. We don’t take classes with the April entrance students because they learn in Japanese, and we live and learn in English with our own professors who teach us in English. So, as we go further along and get into deeper detail on our major, the classes get really small.

In the beginning, everyone, from students who are majoring in computer science to environmental science, takes the same basic classes, the same mathematics and chemistry. Then, we get divided up and start to take more advanced courses in our own field. In my case, I took advanced chemistry and biology classes, such as inorganic and organic chemistry. Those classes had fewer than eight students, which I like because you can get in touch with the teacher really easily. Everything’s frank, it’s not very strict; it’s very free. You can study at your own pace and can get the information you want.


What does the future hold for you?

I’ve already been accepted to a Master’s program under the same professor, in the same laboratory, so I’m going to be here for another two years. After that, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I want to work with something international.

I want to use my chemistry background, what I learned at Waseda, to work somewhere overseas, but still have roots in Japan. Preferably a company such as Coca Cola or Johnson & Johnson, places where I can use my chemistry background, but I want to do something international — something that connects Japan and the rest of the world.

Return to the top of campus life