Science Dialogue

2017/4/10 Science dialogue program was conducted.

The program offers JSPS Overseas Fellows the unique opportunities to volunteer to give lectures in English on their research work at Japanese high schools in the vicinity of their host institutes.

The aim of the lectures is to stimulate the young students’ interest in research and deepen their understanding from a global point of view through interacting with Fellows.

■Introduction program

Science Dialogue Lecture at Chiba Prefectural Sakura High School on 17 January 2017
Lecturer: Dr. Robert NAWROCKI

On 17 January, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Robert Nawrocki gave a Science Dialogue lecture to students at Chiba Prefectural Sakura High School. He talked to them about high-performance organic transistor integrated circuits.

Dr. Robert Nawrocki

Choosing as his theme “Organic bio-electronics for healthcare applications,” Dr. Nawrocki delivered his lecture in three parts. During and after the lecture, he gave the students space to interact by asking questions and expressing ideas.

Leading off the first part of the lecture, he asked the question “Where are we from?” As an example of organic electronics, he told the students about neuromorphic engineering, introducing an experiment being carried out on the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" of the International Space Station. Touching upon his own background, he told the students how he was born in Poland but moved to America after graduating from high school. Doing research in Japan, he said that he has now lived in three countries. Using numerical comparisons, he talked about the geographical and population sizes of the three countries, and sketched an overview of their respective characteristics. Showing the students portraits and photographs, he asked them if they could identify some famous Polish people, including Nicolaus Copernicus and Maria Curie.

He began the second part of his lecture by asking the students some more questions: “What is science?” “What is engineering?” “What is the difference between them?” In explaining the difference, he provided some examples of scientific verses engineering achievements, citing the discovery of gravity and the development of the printing press, quizzing students as to which is which, science or engineering. To further spur this interactive dialogue, he asked the students some thought-probing questions, such as “What kind of scientific breakthroughs do you think will be forthcoming?” “What sort of epoch-making progress would you like to see science achieve?”

During the lecture

The discussion in the third part of the lecture was based on Dr. Nawrocki’s own research theme of “organic electronics.” He explained how super-thin, high-performance organic transistor integrated circuits are used to make bio-organic skin. He told the students about how a robotic arm developed for people with motor disabilities is used by opening a hole in the skull of patients and inserting an electrode which allows them to control the arm with their own thoughts. Dr. Nawrocki said that he now wants to develop non-invasive technologies for manipulating the arm. He has already succeeded in developing an even thinner integrated circuit with an aim of applying it to skin. Using a video clip, he showed the students how a large-scale organic transistor integrated circuit is made using a 3D printer.

Dr. Nawrocki is currently hosted by the University of Tokyo, where he is advancing his research in friendly rivalry with Japanese and international colleagues. The lab where he works carries out the world’s most advanced experiments in organic electronics while developing cutting-edge technologies. Blessed with an environment in which he is able to use experimental equipment not found anywhere else, Dr. Nawrocki said that be is very satisfied with his life as a researcher in Japan even if he finds Japan’s different culture a bit perplexing at times.

Students asking questions

In wrapping up his lecture, Dr. Nawrocki asked the students to do three things: Work hard, enjoy life, and you pursue your calling (what motivates you). Finally, he held a Q&A session with the students, who asked him a wide variety of questions from the technologies he had introduced to the Japanese food that he likes. The way he answered each question with great care was indicative of his strong desire to share his experiences and thoughts with the students.