Studying Chemistry in Okinawa!CurriculumFaculty


Chemistry is something to be found all around us. For instance, multiple-use grocery bags and PET bottles are chemical products, and our safety is often ensured by chemical analysis. An even more familiar example to most of us would be tap water, the safety of which involves extensive application of chemical technology. Did you know that Japan's tap water is extremely safe? The tap water in many parts of the world will make you sick: in fact, in many countries the tap water is so unreliable that people must rely on bottled water. Since April, I have worked for Okinawa Prefecture in tap water safety. Through my work I have come to understand that the safety of the water we drink every day without thinking about it ensured through chemical analysis. Using the chemistry I learned at the University of the Ryukyus and through my graduate school studies, I would like to offer my support to the citizens of Okinawa Prefecture by making their water as safe as I can.
Chemistry is a discipline that serves to support the lives of countless people. Wouldn't you like to join us in studying chemistry at the University of the Ryukyus? The chemistry we learn here at the university is definitely useful to our society.

Ever since I was a child, I enjoyed looking up at the sky. I still remember the sense of elation I had as I imagined how the sky I was looking at was connected to everyplace else on earth, and that the breeze that had just touched my cheek, and the air I had just breathed, would tomorrow travel to meet someone somewhere else in the world.
When I was in high school, air pollution and global warming were starting to come up as important social issues, and I developed an interest in the earth's atmosphere, particularly in the atmospheric environment. This is when I thought that Okinawa would be a good place for me to study trans-border air pollution coming from developing countries. I then decided to join the Chemistry Program here at the Department of Chemistry, Biology, and Marine Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus.
In our fourth year of studies, we had to decide which Laboratory to affiliate with, and this is when I encountered aerosols. The term refers to liquid and solid particles floating on the atmosphere, including waste produced by humans such as from factories or automobiles, as well as from the natural word. Such as trees, soil, and ocean water. Though aerosols exist in the earth's atmosphere only in tiny amounts, their impact is extremely significant, affecting human health and living environment and the natural environment, causing global warming and acid rain, the destruction of the ozone layer, and more. Because of this they are a subject of research the world over.
For my graduation research, I measured perchloric acid (a chemical that causes brain development disorders in fetuses and young children), a pollutant contained in atmospheric aerosols, and I was able to present my results at a conference. For my Master's research, I analyzed samples of atmospheric aerosols in Okinawa over a period of three years, gradually clarifying the behavior of major substances and environmental factors affecting them.
At present, for my doctoral research, I am employing the half-life (substances deteriorates by half over about 5,370 years) of carbon 14 (14C, a carbon isotope used commonly in age determination) to measure the distribution of biomass combustion origin matter (which 14C is rich in) and oil combustion origin matter (14C does not remain overt time) found in atmospheric aerosols transported over long distances from the Asian continent and East Asia. This is the world's first example of this research, which I presented at an international conference.
In accordance with the policy of my overseeing professor, I have presented my research results at many international as well as domestic conferences, in Hawaii, Rome, and San Francisco. I was taken aback at the sheer scale of international conferences and the great variety of research in other fields, yet this experience of interacting with and sharing opinions with researchers from a variety of fields, not limiting oneself to one's own field of specialization, has been very exciting and stimulating. Though our individual research may differ, we share a common larger goal, and I would like to be a part of achieving that goal, even if it's in a small capacity. I move forward each day with my research, maintaining this feeling of excitement.

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