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Undergraduate Study Abroad Student Profile: Kaylene Stocking in Japan

PITTSBURGH (November 10, 2017) - Kaylene Stocking, a junior bioengineering student, spent 12 weeks in Japan this past summer, participating in the Nakatani RIES program.

Through the support of the Nakatani Foundation, the program is funded for all students. 

The experience begins in Tokyo where participants spend three weeks taking courses in Japanese language and culture, as well as a science seminar. The remaining nine weeks are in research at a host university - for Kaylene, this was research at  Kyoto University on a project titled: “Maturation of hiPSC-derived Hepatocyte-like Cells.”

Kaylene answered a few questions about her experience in the program.

What was your favorite thing about living in Japan?

I loved that everything I wanted to see or do was easily accessible via public transportation. Whether it was exploring a nearby city or traveling over a hundred kilometers to a rural Buddhist mountain, I could go anywhere by train. I got to see an incredible variety of things in just three months! Daily living is also very convenient in Japan because of cheap, delicious restaurants and very walkable cities.”

How did you enjoy your research project?

“My project was centered around stem cells, an area I’ve never studied before, so the first couple weeks were slow as I learned all the techniques I needed and did background reading. Once I was oriented, I really enjoyed getting to design and carry out my own project and feeling ownership of my results. My only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to stay longer and do more follow-up experiments!

Do you have any advice for those looking to study in Japan?

“The best advice I can give is learning how to read katakana, a Japanese phonetic alphabet that is used to label anything foreign, especially food. This will be a life-saver while trying to go grocery shopping or even when ordering in a restaurant.”

For more information about the Nakatani RIES program, visit their website: http://nakatani-ries.rice.edu/. Applications are due January 16, 2018.

Contact: Leah Russell