The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science selects Chan for BRIDGE Fellowship

Environmental sciences professor Melissa Chan was one of three Americans awarded a fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. As a result, she will study new research techniques and the impact of the 2011 Fukushima radioactive leaks in Japan that resulted from an earthquake and a tsunami.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Chan

Chan said she was “really excited” when she learned she received the fellowship to return to her alma mater. She will leave for Japan in December.

“I wanted to learn about something new, and I always try to learn something new from other researchers and other labs,” Chan said. “Especially, I think this is a very good opportunity to go there and see what they [are] studying in the lab.”

Chan was awarded the BRIDGE Fellowship from The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and will spend 36 days at Kyoto University in western Japan. Anyone who previously studied at The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science is eligible for the award, according to Chan, who will work in the global environmental engineering department studying health assessments due to exposure of hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials.

“They are still trying to study about the health effects [from the Fukushima leak] and link it to the materials… and they want to try to see the correlation in the relationship over time,” Chan said. “So, I will be going there to learn the methods that they use, some modeling steps and technique…”

She said she will also develop “risk analysis methods and counter measures to evaluate the behavior of contaminants in the environment using numerical simulation methods.”

The techniques Chan learns in Japan will be applicable to classes she teaches at the graduate and undergraduate level. In the undergraduate environmental health and waste management course, Chan said she can relay the health effects she studies to the class. At the graduate level, Chan said she hopes to “record some students and work on those techniques.”

“I think that is very useful and promising in this field, especially now in the environmental sciences program as well,” Chan said.

What Chan will learn in Japan is “not completely new” to her field of study, but it will expand her knowledge base.

“When I was in Japan – it was already a few years ago – so, during that lapse, I think they may have learned some new techniques or research…,” Chan said.

In addition to the new techniques, Chan said she looks forward to networking and “extend[ing] research collaboration.”

“That is what the fellowship award is all about…,” Chan said. “One of the main, I think, missions for that fellowship award is to extend collaboration and network among Japanese researchers with those alumni members.”

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