Tomohito is a second year PhD student at OIST who grew up in Okinawa. Math and science piqued his interest early; when he was a child he learned how to perform calculations on a soroban, a kind of Japanese abacus. “Once you learn the technique, you don’t need the soroban anymore,” he says, demonstrating on a blank page that he can immediately multiply or find the square root of any large number. “You can visualize the problem to find a solution.”
But the soroban was just the beginning for Tomohito. “When I was in high school, I thought scientists were cool,” he said. “They discover things and save lives and create new medicines.” He loved learning about infectious diseases such as HIV, and thought he wanted to pursue drug research and development. In the midst of his biology and chemistry classes, he realized how much he enjoyed basic science research. Now he studies plant epigenetics.
“Plants are pretty new for me, but the molecular biology is kind of the same,” Tomohito says. “My interest is discovering a beautiful new mechanism, and many of those mechanisms are also in humans.”