Building the skills of budding researchers in the natural sciences while cultivating their sense of mission and responsibility
Tohoku University Science Angels is a program for nurturing future generations of female researchers by having women university students serve as “Science Angels” (SAs), accessible role models who communicate the fascination of science to students in primary to high school. It was launched under the Tohoku Women’s Hurdling Project, which was conducted AY 2006–2008 using funding from the Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology. Since the conclusion of that project, the SA program has been continued as a Tohoku University initiative that annually recruits SAs from among Master’s and doctoral students in ten departments in the natural sciences. Those accepted into the program are commissioned by the university president.
Main SA activities
Selected from among women graduate students studying the natural sciences at Tohoku University, the Tohoku University Science Angels (SAs) are tasked with reaching out to female junior/senior high school students considering future careers in research. As role models, their goal is to convey the message that it is “cool” to be a female researcher and that studying the sciences at higher levels is fun. They take part in seminars and other events aimed at communicating the fascination of science and the joys of doing research, drawing from their own experiences in studying outer space, nature, robotics, the environment, human/animal physiology, and other areas of science.
SAs visit mainly high schools to give talks on their experiences in studying their field of science and on university life. High schools visited in the past include Miyagi No. 1 HS and No. 2 Girls’ HS in Miyagi Prefecture, Yamagata Higashi HS and Yamagata Nishi HS in Yamagata Prefecture, and Ryugasaki No. 1 HS in Ibaraki Prefecture.
SAs also join in science events held in Sendai to conduct easy-to-follow experiments and industrial arts projects designed to show that science is an integral part of everyday life. Examples of past events include “Fun Talks on Science” and “Gakuto Miyagi Science Day.”
As part of Tohoku University Open Campus, SAs offer advice and answers to female high school students interested in studying science at college. One such event was titled “Open Campus for High School Women by Tohoku University Science Angels.”