Okayama University

Faculty members and science graduate students discuss research protocols during the age of COVID-19

May 18, 2020

9425_image_1.jpgOn the 15th of May, Okayama University President MAKINO Hirofumi convened an online conference call between faculty staff and 14 graduate students from 3 science departments. The aim of the call was to discuss appropriate clinical research protocols and guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak.

Other than President Makino、Executive Director for Research, NASU Yasutomo; Vice President in charge of graduate school reforms, FUNAHASHI Hiroaki; and Director of Research Cooperation, YAMAZAKI Junichiro also joined the discussion. 14 graduate students (5 females, 9 males), representing the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, the Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science, and the Graduate School of 9425_image_2.jpgInterdisciplinary Science and Engineering in Health Systems participated. The students comprised of Masters, Doctoral, and Special Research students and included adult learners as well as international students.

Using video conferencing software, President Makino opened the discussion, stating that, "I understand that there are currently various obstacles to the research activities of graduate students, especially those in the science field. I would like to hear your opinions directly in order to collectively think about what we should do as a university in the near future."

In response to the national state of emergency, Okayama University has taken significant 9425_image_3.jpgmeasures to prevent the spread of infection, including restricting research activities and prohibiting students from attending school.

Students mentioned that, "As we are unable to continue our clinical research, we were hoping to at least make progress with our theoretical research. However, the university library is closed, so we are not able to conduct as much research as we had hoped." "The teachers have to take care of all the laboratory animals by themselves, which is a very difficult task." When asked if they had any specific requests to the university, many students asked that research activities be resumed as soon as possible, adding that "we are worried that it is going to be even more difficult than usual to balance job hunting and research, so we would appreciate flexibility regarding graduation criteria" and "we want a place where

we can share know-how about how to effectively utilize online classes."

In response to the opinions shared by students, President Makino assured them that he was preparing a phased approach to restart university research activities as soon as possible while giving due consideration to the health and safety of his students and faculty members. He concluded that, "as a university that promotes the UN's SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), we understand the value of sustainable research activities. Please continue your research and do not give up." Executive Director Nasu ended the conference call by encouraging students that, "though it is difficult, it is important to be optimistic."