University of Torino, Torino, Italy
Mario Bertaina writes to Toshikazu Ebisuzaki at the Computational Astrophysics Laboratory,
RIKEN Advanced Science Institute
As I write this letter I remember well my three and a half years at RIKEN as a JSPS fellow, first in Shimizu-sensei’s laboratory and then as a contract researcher in your laboratory. At the end of this month, it will be exactly three years since I left your lab to return to Italy, where I now have a permanent position at Torino University. My current position is one of the great outcomes of my stay at RIKEN, which was really an important cornerstone of my scientific curriculum vitae.
As you know, since I left your laboratory, I have visited RIKEN more than ten times, and you have visited Torino University twice. Together we have organized workshops in Torino and in Tokyo. All of this shows how we have built a strong collaboration since my departure, and I consider all of these things the second most important outcome of my research activity at RIKEN.
RIKEN for me is a synonym for organization, efficiency, top-level research, synergy and cooperation among quite different disciplines. As an example, in your laboratory, I met colleagues working on cosmic rays like me, but at the same time, some of them were interested in developing electronic circuits or advanced computers, while others were dealing with the formation and evolution of galaxies, or molecular dynamics. I have experienced a similar situation in my previous research at the former Image Information Unit, and I clearly understood that one of the characteristics of laboratories at RIKEN is that they are headed by eclectic team leaders with several fields of interest. And I believe this is one of the main reasons that research at RIKEN is at the top level in the world and has produced several Nobel laureates in the past. In fact, we need open-minded researchers with many fields of interest in order to generate great ideas.
From my stay in Japan, I learned that RIKEN bets on new ideas, revolutionary projects and young researchers, giving very good salaries and ample funding to develop research. This is the dream of every scientist. Unfortunately, it is one of the aspects I have missed most since my return to Italy.
At RIKEN, I also learned that secretaries and assistants are as important as researchers. I’m deeply indebted to Suzuki-san and Ohata-san who helped me to solve all of the obstacles that a foreign person encounters while living in Japan, and in doing so allowed me to concentrate on my work.
I also have to thank all of my Japanese colleagues who taught me quite a lot about Japanese life, culture and language. They spoke with me mostly in Japanese, as I was the only foreigner working in the two labs. It was tough at the beginning, but thanks to the Japanese language classes taken at JALS of RIKEN, I managed to overcome the initial difficulties.
Finally, I envy RIKEN for its excellent facilities: the nice soccer field, the comfortable international house and its kind personnel, as well as the friendly staff of the ICO room. I miss the variety of food of the two shokudo (cafeteria), the ‘blood orange juice’ of Tully’s, and last but not least, the pleasant nomikai (get-together) we had with you and our colleagues from time to time, as well, of course, as the business trips and holidays all over Japan!
With my best regards,
Department of General Physics
University of Torino
Via P. Giuria, 1
10125 Torino, Italy