Leave a Nest completed its first Global Academic Leaders program for Tokyo University of Agriculture. This unique program offered a week full of activities in two neighboring countries, Singapore and Malaysia from 10 until 16 December 2017. In line with the university’s strength in practical science for sustainable development of mankind and earth, the aim of the training program in Singapore and Malaysia is to open the path for the students to understand how knowledge from academia can be brought into social implementation. Another major aim is to let the students learn about the emerging technologies and research outcomes that are available in Singapore and Malaysia.
The nine participants from Tokyo University of Agriculture are a mixed of PhD candidates, Master and also undergraduates from various field of sciences. They were being chaperoned by Dr. Satoru Watanabe from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Leave a Nest staff from Tokyo and Malaysia.
The program kicked-off in Singapore. Upon arrival, students were asked about their personal goal and expectation of the day. This was to prepare their mind and to challenge them to achieve the goal on daily basis. On the first visiting day, students were asked to present their ideas and solutions to Mr. Issey Maeda, CEO of AGRI HOLDINGS, Inc.. Mr. Maeda presented about AGRI HOLDINGS, Inc. and its business expansion history and future plan. After a hearty lunch by Samurice, the group moved to Fusion World for a quick tour and listened to an inspiring lecture by Associate Professor Dr. Shigeki Sugii at A*STAR, a government research institute under the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Singapore. Dr. Sugii shared about the benefits of studying abroad, the characteristics of science and technology policy in Singapore, explained about A*STAR roles and about DUKE-NUS. Lastly, he shared about his research work on the use of adipose derived stem cells for regenerative therapies. Continuing the day’s momentum, the students were brought to meet with Assistant Professor Michinao Hashimoto at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He spoke about his research in microfluidics and the benefits of embarking on fundamentals research and in applications of research.
On the second day in Singapore, the students roamed the National University of Singapore (NUS) to meet with respective professors for research discussions. This was an incredible challenge because the students had individual appointments where they had to communicate entirely in English without any help from a translator. After the NUS visit, the students were brought to visit the vertical farm at Panasonic Factory Solutions Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. (PFSAP) and get to sample fresh salad from the farm. Students also presented their proposals on how to maximize the output and value of vertical farming to the management of PFSAP in English. It was a spectacular fear-confront moment and the students gained more confidence after receiving encouraging feedback from the PFSAP management.
In Malaysia, the first stop for the students’ delegation was at Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation. The students listened to the presentation by Dr. Kodi Isparan Kandasamy, Senior Vice President (AgBiotech). Among others, Dr. Kodi spoke about the National Policy, the role of Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation and its main thrusts areas. Question and answer session was so lively with students taking turn to ask questions. They were also brought to visit Bioshoppe, a showcase area with products from local biotech companies.
On the fourth day, students were brought to University of Malaya (UM) and Monash University to meet with professors of their choice. Each student had identified and set their own appointments few weeks before. The mission at UM and Monash University was a success. Although the temperature was at 28 degrees Celsius and everybody was drenched in sweat having to walk under the hot sun, the students left the campus with a huge grin on their face and satisfied with the outcome. The next stop was at Revongen Corporation Sdn. Bhd. Mr. El Law, CEO of Revongen Corporation received the students’ delegation and at this location, students had the chance to tour the tissue culture lab, look at halal testing kits, sample taste the honey from stingless bee (meliponini) and drink tea from local flower (melastoma decemfidum). Revongen Corporation Sdn. Bhd. has set-up several subsidiaries on various projects related to agri-biotech and halal. Students also presented their idea to Revongen Corporation on how to utilize agriculture waste from the production of Kiri, Banana, Ginger or Vanilla.
Final day in Malaysia came and as the last stop-over point, the students’ delegation visited Halal Product Research Institute (HPRI) at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The Head of Lab, Associate Professor Dr. Mohd Nasir Mohd Desa shared on the roles of HPRI and the many aspects of halal. Students were then brought to visit the Halal Services Lab. After a short lunch break at Mitsui Outlet, the group headed to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and depart for Singapore in the late afternoon. They spent a final night in Singapore and left for Japan in the morning.
It was a wholesome trip for the students. With each feedback session that was conducted every day, students showed improvement and positive changes. This trip has enabled them to see the kind of research that is being done by universities outside Japan. They now have the understanding about the difference in research outcome and government support between Singapore and Malaysia, and the unique blend of culture in both countries. More importantly, this Global Academic Leaders program helped to shape the students’ academic vision, conquer their fear to converse in a foreign language and inspire them to challenge themselves with a bigger dream.
Leave a Nest would like to continue this Global Academic Leaders program with universities within the ASEAN region.
We welcome requests from universities to formulate a specially tailored leadership training program according to their needs. Leave a Nest is able to encourage young researchers to have mindset and soft skills to become future leaders in the field of science and technology.