Celebrating Women: Murasaki Sendai Hagi Award 2024

Four female researchers received the 2024 Murasaki Sendai Hagi Award from Tohoku University President Hideo Ohno at a ceremony on March 19. The award, which recognizes outstanding young female researchers, aims to encourage and promote equality and diversity on campus.

This year's recipients were Ayako Osawa (Project Researcher, Graduate School of Intercultural Studies), Aiko Yakeno (Assistant Professor, Institute of Fluid Science), Aino Komatsu (Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Life Sciences) and Akiko Ogawa (Assistant Professor, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer).

They each introduced their research in a series of short lectures which were also streamed live online.

Osawa explained how her research aims to "shed light on the spiritual and cultural history of modern Japan through the central themes of self-cultivation, education and gender."

While Yakeno spoke of contributing towards the development of highly efficient, low-carbon next-generation transportation vehicles. "I was able to carry out a comprehensive flow simulation that takes into account the turbulence during an actual aircraft's cruising conditions. This has enabled me to explain the transitions that occur around the leading edge of an aircraft wing using the theory of energy transient amplification, while also confirming the effect of reducing friction drag through surface roughness."

Komatsu gave her lecture on robust vegetative reproduction of the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha and its controlling mechanism. She explained that "a plant hormone called KL is a gemma initiation hormone, and the efficiency of vegetative reproduction can be managed by adjusting the hormonal signaling's on/off status in response to environmental conditions."

And Ogawa introduced her work on epitranscriptome-based bio-metabolic research. "'Epitranscriptome' refers to the modifications present in RNA, a type of nucleic acid. We have discovered that one of the metabolites of RNA modifications, previously thought to be waste, has a strong physiological effect," she said. "While these metabolites are abundant in the body, their significance is largely unknown. So my research focuses on trying to clarify the connections with diseases."

The event ended with the four award recipients having a roundtable conversation with President Ohno, Vice President for PR and the Promotion of Diversity Noriko Osumi and the Director of the Tohoku University Centre for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Mami Tanaka. They shared the challenges and rewards of being a female researcher, and also discussed ways that conditions and facilities on campus can be improved.

Established in 2017, the Murasaki Sendai Hagi Award is given every year to outstanding female researchers at Tohoku University. One recipient is chosen from each of the following fields: humanities and social sciences; science and engineering; agriculture and life sciences; and dentistry, pharmacy and health.



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Tohoku University
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