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Biocatalysis-related Conferences Review [Domestic]

Hello everyone!

It is the obon holiday here in Japan, I have just finished labwork today, though. Catching up some wet-lab datas so I can go back to Indonesia for summer vacation peacefully ^^ This week, I would like to share about the review of biocatalysis-related conferences that I have been to (since some of my kouhai ask me about this as well)!

For the convenience of the post-length, I would like to share only my domestic conferences experience in this post. So, conferences in Japan are mainly held by certain society (yearly or biennially). Do expect a quite formal atmosphere (only suit is acceptable, i guess), and sessions mainly held in Japanese (although people are encourage to use English more and more).

Chemical Society of Japan (CSJ) Annual Meeting

link, next conference : March 2019, Kobe.

Japanese name : 日本化学会年会

In a glimpse : One word for this annual meeting, it is a really huge! It is held every Spring by Chemical Society of Japan. Every aspect of chemistry will be discussed in this conference. Conferences are usually held for 4 days with sessions held in parallel.

The conference location will always move from year to year. It rotates from Kanto (mostly Chiba, Nihon University) to Kansai, and to Yokohama

Attendances : 4 times, all oral A presentation (7 minutes presentation, 3 minutes Q&A)

Personal experience :

CSJ 2015 (Nihon University, Chiba) and CSJ 2016 (Doshisha University, Kyoto)

CSJ 2017 (Keio University, Yokohama) and CSJ 2018 (Nihon University, Chiba)

My experience attending this conference is always as an oral speaker. The one that i haven’t tried is oral B (20 minutes in total, only for PhD students 2nd and 3rd year).

I am almost always attending only the day where the biocatalysis sessions are held. Most of the presentations are in Japanese, still. So if you want to engage more, it is better to have Japanese ability. Because of the time limitation and scale of the conference, to be honest I did not really receive a lot of feedback from this conference.

If you have time to go to the poster session, I guess you can engage more! But do remember that the scale of the poster session is quite huge. If your research also involves new methodology you can also join the ATP (Advanced Technology Program Session). The next conference? I should go with oral B, I guess (20 minutes presentation).

 

The Society of Biocatalysis Japan : Biocatalysis Symposium of Japan

link, next conference : December 2018, Yokohama

Japanese name : 生体触媒化学シンポジウム

In a glimpse : Quite different from the huge society of Chemistry Society of Japan, the Society of Biocatalysis Japan offers more “homey” and warm atmosphere. My academic supervisor is a member of this society.  This society board members are only around 25 Professors altogether with people from industry, so it is more like a “family gathering” :). This conference is held every year (around winter) for 2 days.

Attendances : twice, 1 oral presentation (20 minutes in total) and 1 poster presentation

Personal experiences : 

Oral presentation

Oral presentation at 第18回生体触媒化学シンポジウム@ Tokyo

My experience as oral presenter was 2 years ago, when the conference was held in Meisei University, Tokyo (near Sanrio Puroland, lol). It was really thrilling since I use  English for my presentation language despite the conference was 100% held in Japanese that time (even now my Japanese is not enough for formal academic presentation, yet). The hall was quite big and inside the student session I was the only foreigner Doctoral 1st year presenter >.<  Nevertheless, I felt very honored to be the representative of my laboratory that time (one laboratory can only give only delegation).

Feedback was quite good, I think my Sensei gave me the opportunity for this to boost my confidence and train me to present big data (it was my first time presenting all my mutant library data orally).

Poster presentation

Poster presentation at 第19回生体触媒化学シンポジウム@Sasebo

The following year i participate again as poster presenter (I started a new research topic so I still have few datas that time). The feedback was way better, I think that was  the best poster session that I had so far 🙂 The conference this year was held in Sasebo, Nagasaki (so as expected the attendee decrease). Although the venue was remote, it was really beautiful. One more tips, the mixer (懇親会, in Japanese) is a very good way for networking and looking for your next academic position, tee-hee.

IMG_0594the most beautiful mixer venue, ever.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

By the way, actually my academic supervisor is hosting the next conference, The 20th Biocatalysis Symposium of Japan. Indeed, this is a great responsibility and seems like this year gonna be BIG, with BIG names coming, lol.

But I am all pumped up for this and ready to be my supervisor’s sidekick!

Up to now I have learned so many things even from the preparation. For example : how to keep a good Minutes of Meeting (MoM), how to write sponsorship invitation letter in Japanese, how to write the content of conference website, until how to order poster in publisher in Japan 😀

Nonetheless, this will be my last contribution for my laboratory, before graduating I hope I can give my best!

I will keep you updated for the next update of this conference, we are almost launching the website and flyer! I will also give you another story for my international conference experiences next week, so stay tune! 🙂

 

Love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

 

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a day off of PhD Students : Aobadai Review

Happy weekend! It is Satuday night here.

Saturday is always my no-academic and no-experiment day. I always spend it together with my bf (since he always work on Sunday, and I will do experiment also on Sunday).

A typical day off for two PhD students will be generally simple! We will either sing or play violin and he would accompany me record music video. Or, we would be out eating or he would accompany me shopping.

So let me tell you one by one.

[Outfit of the day]

One of the most important thing is outfit of the day. Although we don’t usually go really far but I will dress up, still! Today is really hot so I dress up like this!

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pink sunnies from Paris van Java, Bandung, Indonesia; basic black tops and kilted mini skirt from Topshop; a shocking pink Harrods bag; and platform Converse shoes.

I don’t have my bf ootd. He is just a normal boy, does not care much about fashion. lol.

Anyway, today we tried new restaurant and new menu!

[T’s Kitchen Steak : Aobadai]

https://tabelog.com/en/kanagawa/A1401/A140202/14061146/

This restaurant is located just around 3 minutes walk from Aobadai Station (walking out from the west exit towards Aobadai Tokyu Square). We always passed this restaurant everytime we go to Jonathan’s Aobadai. Just like the name, the restaurant specialized only on steak. The restaurant is quite small (only 9 seatings in a counter setting). But the food is delicious and fresh! We ordered the lunch set steak that already includes rice, salad, and miso shiru! (1280 JPY for ladies size 120 gr and 1680 JPY for men’s size 140 gr). They served salt, pepper, shoyu sauce, and mustard for seasoning.

One interesting thing we learned today that the black round block is actually a heating block. The steak will be served in medium rare, so if you want to make it well done, you can just press and grill your steak on the block!

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[Ueshima Coffee-ten Aobadai Shop]

It is definitely not my first time to go to this coffee shop but today I finally tried out the summer menu, kakigori (かき氷 Japanese shaved ice dessert). It comes in two flavor, strawberry and kuromitsu-houjicha (Japanese sugar and tea).

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Of course, I asked for the strawberry flavor, lol.

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What can I say about this? It is a perfect combination of finely shaved ice with strawberry sauce and chunked strawberry. It is combined with condensed milk and ice-cream on top! 🙂 Perfect for the hot summer day!

Caution, it looks small but actually it is quite big ^^ We had hard time to finish everything :p Next week, I would probably try the other flavor.

 

So that’s it for my review this week! 🙂

For those living in Japan, stay hydrated and safe from the scorching heat!

 

Love :*

 

Afifa

 

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Gordon Research Conference in a Glance

Hello all!

It’s just after typhoon number 12 here now in Japan, and it has been approximately 2 weeks after I went back from my academic honeymoon this year. So yes! *drumroll* finally I’ve got the chance to attend the conference I’ve been dreaming of since my first year of doctoral degree.

Gordon Research Conference – Frontiers of Science : Biocatalysis 🙂

So how what makes this conference so special?

It is a science concentration camp (in a good way of course)

The biocatalysis one is held every 2 years in Maine, USA. Different than other conferences that I have ever been to this conference is always located in a remote area. It was 2 hours bus-ride from Boston and practically there is nothing there (except the super pretty scenery!). Kudos to them for their aim to make the participant pretty much focus on the conference. We slept in the same dorm, eat 3 meals a day together, had sport activities during free time together, basically everything together! Indeed it is a science concentration camp, lol!

But let’s take a look! This concentration camp is really beautiful (The University of New England with its beautiful red-brick architecture is just located beside Biddeford Pool, beach, and Atlantic Ocean)

There is also so many delicious food everyday. And…. LOBSTER! LOL. And sometimes rice, I cannot live without rice…..

It is indeed, overwhelming (again, in a good way)

But well, yes, it is a little overwhelming (in a good way of course). Meeting faces you only read in the journal article. Seeing them presenting and really talking to them. (this year I finally met the author that I’ve been fan-girl-ing since 2015, Professor Musa M. Musa).

The sessions were not too long but the cutting-edge science inside it? It is quite overwhelming and sometimes could be heavy. Everyone is presenting the best research/technology/innovation in their field! It is like a biocatalysis all you can eat. Any enzyme you need? any new technique you’ve been curious about? any reaction? anything you want, you will find it in Gordon!

But i cannot deny, it is really tiring (at least for me). For me to be sober and to be able to take good notes on the next day, I have to skip the bar session every night. Nevermind, I do not drink alcohol as well 🙂

It is secretive, somehow exclusive

Researcher got to present their cutting-edge unpublished data here, so yes, no picture and no uploading to social media. The Gordon principle also lies on not trying to copy the idea you have learned or heard from here.  Yes secretive.

But you also have the chance to talk directly to those popular professors, and scientists. I got a lot of chance to talk with my idols, not a chance that you will have everyday. Indeed it is somehow exclusive.

By the way, I also attended the Gordon Research Seminar one day prior to the Conference. It is an excellent melting pot for young scientists to discuss their career path. The participants are mainly graduate students, post-doctoral research, and early career researcher. We also had a mentorship session with experts in many fields (also with many backgrounds, i.e : people going from academia then to industry or people going back to academia from industry). It was a very very nice experience for me!

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Participants of Gordon Research Seminar, just a day before Gordon Research Conference

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Matsuda Research Group in Gordon Research Conference

It made me feel worthy

Sometimes when you are in a cramped space (although you love that space too much) you will somehow limit and compare yourself in the sample size as small as that particular space. I am just meticulous old-fashioned me who like to draw with colored felt pen, put a lot of sticker in the experiment book cover, and personify my enzymes.

I am definitely not gonna achieve as lot as my Doctoral student peers in my lab, well, that is the reality that I have accepted. But in Gordon, somehow I feel more alive and worthy.

I asked questions in forum. Maybe my questions was stupid, but I still raise my hand everyday. Seeing how the professors respond me or how some people got to remember me because of me asking questions everyday definitely boosted my confident.

There was a mentorship session also in the conference. I got a one-to-one session with a female Professor from UK. She is really sweet and charming and of course super witty. Based on our sharing she valued me as a girl that had courage to learn crystallography despite of her originally microbiology background. She said that i should not feel down not having gazillions of publication. One solid publication is OK, one publication that can really explain what you are doing. There is nothing to be ashamed of 🙂 The conversation is too sweet.

So here I am now, home from Gordon.

I know I am pumped up because of this. I am excited because of this. I realize that science is really an interesting thing because of this.

But you know? I have to give a big thumbs up to myself because actually I am always feeling like this right? I love doing research just because I love doing it 🙂 I just need confidence boost to keep on doing this. I just need some confidence for me to think that it is okay to keep going on although slowly and not as good as other people.

Ok, so next will be Doctoral progress report. and next destination will be… Russia! ❤

I will participate in a short term student dispatch to Moscow State University next September as one of the Tokyo Tech’s participant. I am thrilled because this might be my last exchange opportunity as a student. Next October I will already be doctoral third year student. Probably will be my last year of formal education.

It’s been (let me count…) almost 23 years of non-stop studying. Fruitful years with many ups and downs :’) But what can i say? I love science and study so much 🙂

So no matter what your research level are, don’t give up and keep on going!

Love

Afifa

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May Allah leads us all the way

Hello everyone!

 

How was life? Here in Japan, it’s getting colder and colder because it’s already in the end of November. However, lately things are getting better and better, in my opinion. Nothing change much in the terms of academic, instead I found myself a new (quite cool) topic of synthesizing cool drugs. But in the case of my heart? Dramatic change happened.

 

So i guess i found myself in a wrong relationship for 4 years, idk. For long. And to be honest i was kinda losing myself and my grip, and even my trust to everyone during those times. Imagine?

But finally I have the courage to let go of what’s not good for me.

Start fresh and suddenly unexpectedly God has turned my faith and gave me a leap of destiny *okay exaggerating mode of talking : on*

 

Honestly i never felt this better in life. Finally i have got the contentment of life, like, finally be able to love myself and think that I am good enough. Finally feeling that I am being loved by so many people, my family, my best friends, my lab mates, and everyone. World is of course not perfect, but it is so wonderful right now.

And more wonderfully, I think I have developed a better connection and relation with God, Allah SWT.

I was put in a situation where I have to combine my favorite activity (teaching) with Islam. And yes, as always, to be able to teach someone, the thing that you should do is to learn more about the things. Just like teaching enzymology or how to do experiment 🙂 So I am trying hard to fix my Salah (more punctual and so on, especially now someone is somehow reminding me to do it, although he’s not yet doing it), improve my understanding about the basic principle of Islam as well as reading Al Quran more studiously.

Trying to put it together, explaining how Islamic principle is wonderful and very applicable in the modern life. And of course how it can be explained in the scientific way #becausewearePhDcandidates #nerdleague

 

So I would like to put my utmost gratitude from God to send me a catalyst that can make me see myself as a better person, pursue my career to be better, fixing my relation with everyone, and at the same time make me try to know God better 🙂

To put it simple, make me happy, thank you Nerd and Mr. Nerd (the violin).

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Are we out of the woods yet?

Of course not, this is a big and serious challenge. We have no intention to hide or avoid it, the difference that we have. Kudos for him to put himself in this situation and his willingness to try, fight, and learn. Baby steps everyday, it will be okay.

 

May Allah leads us all the way.

 

 

With loads of love,

 

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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I will be myself

Hello all!

Getting cold now and it’s been raining since yesterday, probably until the end of next week. So, i’ve just spent my super late summer holiday in Indonesia. Coming back to the lab, everything is just pretty much the same. Experiment and writing my manuscript.

Just gonna write a little before sleeping.

My heart is feeling unwell today. (lately).

That’s probably what happen if you try to cut yourself from your comfort zone of 5 years already >.< *geez that’s quite long, uh?* but that’s not the main point!!

 

 

So, lately I have this feeling again of everyone’s moving away so fast. People keep moving forward with their wonderful and full of accomplishment/achievements life (that they show in their social media, i do not know the real struggle, though).

Talking about social media, probably I am always honest at my social media. When I felt sad i will say that I’m sad. I am not really filtering my post so that my life will look perfect or fairy-tale-ish.

And the truth is now like this : people are super fast and shining and sparkling, while I am here with my baby steps and my matte color, lol.

But I guess it’s okay. It’s okay to always be the silent one. Silently works behind everything. Harmless and underdog. Has nothing to be brag about. Not a cool kid? That’s okay, as long as you’re still alive and moving forward, it’s completely okay.

 

 

The most important thing?

I have my goals (and reaching it with my baby steps, lol) and I have to make peace with myself. Probably I have my plus point as well compared to those shining creatures, lol.

But I guess I will just be myself and make peace with myself.

 

There are a lot of wonderful little things in front of me now.

Might not be as shining as what they have but at least I have secured myself a topic for my publication, and… I will talk about DNA to public in November.. and I will play piano in a concert in December, will dance and sing as well… and I will be in charge of my favorite class, International Communication Biology stuffs 🙂

 

Just record this quickly to uplift my mood.

 

 

With a load of love,

 

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema