by Jensen Lo
Thanks to the support of FUTI and the University of Tokyo, I was able to spend a wonderful summer studying in Professor Yasushi Ono’s lab as part of the UTSIP program. Professor Ono’s research focuses on the fundamental study of magnetic reconnection, an important phenomenon related to a variety of natural processes, from solar flares to certain instabilities found in plasmas. Over the summer, I worked on a type of plasma diagnostic known as a Langmuir Probe, which can measure several parameters of the plasma, like the electron temperature. These diagnostics are used to observe plasmas as they undergo reconnection within the experimental apparatus.
Initially it was quite difficult because most of the papers that I read and the work that I did were mostly in Japanese, and I didn’t know the vocabulary, but I worked hard by making word lists and reading through textbooks to learn the words, and within a couple of days I learned enough to start contributing. I spent most of my time in the lab working with one of the graduate students, who was incredibly kind and patient with me.
I felt very welcomed into the lab and I had a great time while I was there. It was also wonderful meeting my fellow interns, who came from all over the world to participate in the program. Although I plan to remain in the United States for graduate school, this internship reaffirmed my desire to return to Japan for a longer-term commitment, like a one-year research fellowship. I’ve discovered on this trip that the quality of research in Japan in my field of interest, plasma physics, is truly excellent, and I’ve come to understand why my professors at Princeton have so many collaborators in Japan. In plasma physics, especially nuclear fusion, collaboration and partnership isn’t merely a luxury but a necessity, and I can imagine no scientific partners better than the various universities and research institutes focusing on fusion in Japan.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to come to Japan, especially to the many individuals that donated to FUTI to create the scholarship fund. I had a great time, and learned so much. I hope that many more students will be able to come and have wonderful experiences, just like I did.