Part 2: Alumni’s thoughts about Prof. Kawazoe and their experiences at Tohoku University
Andi: Did you manage to keep in touch with Prof. Kawazoe and other alumni after you graduated?
Prof. Wang: Even after I graduated, I still closely worked together with Professor Kawazoe through many research project collaborations that made substantial contributions to Tohoku University and also my university.
Prof. Kawazoe: I organized many international conferences that Wang-san always joined. These conferences became our opportunity to meet each other, to meet other researchers, and to discuss scientific problems with them. And I met Abhishek yesterday and we spent time together.
Prof. Singh: Yes, for a while we didn’t see each other. Fortunately, yesterday I was with him, and I saw he has the same confidence. The way he drives at the age of almost 75 years old… At 75, maybe even I will not be able to drive. He has the same passion for science and music. Inspired by him, during the lockdown due to the pandemic, I started learning guitar. When I met him, he gave me some guitar skills, by which I mean some tips on how to improve my guitar playing. His confidence at his age makes me keep learning from him. He’s still my teacher.
Dr. Bahramy: Even though we are in two different countries, I still try to maintain contact with Prof. Kawazoe. I’m grateful to Prof. Kawazoe and I just want to tell him that no matter how far we are from each other physically, I will always thank him for the things that he has done for us.
Prof. Kawazoe: Don’t mention it. I will remember and regard everyone I have ever met as a friend for the rest of my life.
Andi: Were there any difficulties you faced while studying at Tohoku University and ‘Kawazoe Lab’?
Prof. Wang: I did not face many challenges related to my research and education during my time at Tohoku University, as Prof. Kawazoe always helped me solve the problems.
Prof. Kawazoe: Wang-san, do you remember your experience when you were trying to sign up for a driving school in Sendai?
Prof. Wang: Ah yes! I found it difficult to read the documents, question sheets, and forms that I had to fill out. So, I went back to the lab and asked Prof. Kawazoe about it. He explained everything to me sentence by sentence until I completely understood and could sign up.
Prof. Singh: Yeah, ‘challenge’ is everywhere; it comes to you in different forms. For me, because during my study at Tohoku University my children were still babies, I had to manage my time between work and going to daycare.
Also, we faced language difficulties with Japanese documents and documents that we had to fill out when we visited the city office. However, in Sendai, every moment was always really good. We had a great time, especially at ‘Kawazoe Lab’.
Dr. Bahramy: I remember when I was working on my first paper, I heard that my advisor would be going abroad for a couple of months. It was shocking news at the time because I was just in the second year of my PhD. I was in the middle of writing a very long and deep code. Then I realized that I had to be a bit quicker. With help from Prof. Kawazoe, in a couple of months I was actually able to finish the paper. It was nearly 30 pages and that was the longest paper I had ever written.
Prof. Kawazoe: Yeah, I think these are examples of a ‘good challenge’ during your time at Tohoku University and in Sendai. At the time, it must have been stressful for you, but I hope it made a positive impact on your life.
Andi: Finally, what memories and life lessons did you learn from each other – from Prof. Kawazoe and other alumni?
Prof. Wang: During my doctoral studies at Tohoku University, I used to study in the field of computational material science. Prof. Kawazoe taught me research expertise and to build a deep interest in the research that I was doing at that time. He also gave me a lot of encouragement and valuable suggestions that enabled me to timely complete my research. ‘Kawazoe Lab’ supervisors also made me develop a rigorous, realistic, and dynamic spirit. Those experiences have equipped me to guide my students and help my own international students.
Prof. Singh: Like he said, he does not discriminate against anyone. He never judges anyone. He never offended anyone. It’s just simply a human-to-human interaction to him, but I know this is actually one of the hardest things to do. For me, I can’t do such kind things like he does. It’s unbelievable. As a human, sometimes you will unconsciously discriminate against people, but everyone is the same in front of Prof. Kawazoe. He welcomes and respects everyone regardless of their background, religion, or whatever.
Dr. Bahramy: When I was in his lab, I could see that the positive environment he made created a very dynamic, organic place for everyone to learn and to be a better person. I could see that everyone had very positive interactions with other lab members because Prof. Kawazoe tried to make the environment very interactive.
He did everything he could to make our life fun. For example, our lab had many events such as a year-end party, a party in the beginning of the new year, and every time someone got married or had kids, we had additional parties. He always tried to help us whenever we had difficulties in our daily lives.
Prof. Kawazoe: Thank you everyone. The lesson I’ve learned from meeting the people I mentored is to always do my best for everyone since kindness may create success.
I am always glad to witness the success of the people I have mentored. Furthermore, they never forget the place where they grew and learned. I am grateful to those who make an effort to maintain good ties and relationships with me. All of them are good friends of mine. I hope I can stay healthy and live a long life so that I can see them again and share my happiness with them.
Further details on the alumni participants
Prof. Qian Wang graduated from Tohoku University in 2001 and is now working at Peking University’s School of Materials Science and Engineering in the Center for Applied Physics and Technology. >>Click for details
Prof. Abhishek Singh graduated from Tohoku University in 2004 and is currently working at the Materials Research Centre of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. >>Click for details
Dr. Mohammad Saeed Bahramy graduated from Tohoku University in 2009 and is a lecturer on Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. >>Click for details
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