National Institute for Physiological Sciences Takemura Lab Sensory & Cognitive Brain Mapping
National Institute for Physiological SciencesNational Institute for Physiological Sciences

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Graduate Students Q & A

How much does graduate school costs?
Our PhD Program (SOKENDAI system) have multiple options for financially support the graduate students, aiming to make a fruitful research environment where students are not expected to take loans to fund their PhD education. For details, please check institutional website on "PhD Course Scholarship" . Most importantly, international applicants are highly expected to apply for Japanese governmental scholarship for international students (MEXT scholarship). If you were interested in applying for Takemura Lab, please discuss your application with Professor Takemura sufficiently in advance the deadline for MEXT scholarship.
How much existing knowledge is required to join Takemura Lab as a graduate student?
Modern neuroscience research requires knowledge on not only neuroscience, but also computer science, magnetic resonance in medicine, neuroanatomy, physiology, psychology, developmental science and other related field. It is not possible to learn detailed knowledge on all fields during undergraduate education and students are expected to learn about these field after joining the lab. Therefore, I encourage applications from students with a diverse set of educational backgrounds. Prior research experience on related field is advantageous but not necessary. Undergraduate degrees with social/humanity sciences are not particularly disadvantageous, since I majored experimental psychology until graduate school and switched to advanced neuroimaging during the postdoctoral work. However, analysis of brain data requires intensive amount of work in coding and performing signal processing. While advanced programming skills at a time of application are not expected for graduate student applicants, Takemura Lab may not be a right choice for students who do not like to learn coding skills.
What type of language skills are expected?
English communication skills are necessary. We regularly use English for discussion during the lab meeting as well as presenting research outcome in a form of conference talks and research articles. To apply five-years PhD program of SOKENDAI, you must submit English test scores and there is a minimum standard score for successful applications (see the bottom of institutional page). However, students are not expected to have a perfectly fluent English conversation skills since it is more important to have skills for logically organized discussions and writings rather than having extremely high level of proficiency. Professor Takemura is also not a native English speaker and strongly supports students whose native language is not English. Therefore, there is a minimum standard for English skills but please do not hesitate to apply just because you are not native English speaker.

Since we use English for scientific communications in the lab, Japanese communication skills are not necessary. Applicants for PhD program is not expected to have Japanese skills. However, Japanese communication skill may improve your daily life experience since it will become easier to make friends outside the lab and to learn historical and cultural background of Japan. Therefore, learning Japanese after joining the lab is not necessary, but encouraged.
Do I need to send an email to Professor Takemura prior to the application?
Professor Takemura is happy to touch base before you apply to the lab. This can be an efficient and informative way to determine whether your research interests align with the Takemura Lab and/or other labs in the institute. However, such emails do not determine admissions outcomes, and applicants who do not email are not disadvantageous in the admissions process of SOKENDAI PhD program. If you do not receive a response from us, please understand it is not personal or evaluative. Most likely, your email was just forgotten and you should feel free to send us a reminder.
If I email Professor Takemura, what my email should say?
Please include your name, undergraduate institution and your major. Preferably, please also write (1) why you are interested in research in Takemura Lab, (2) prior research experience, and (3) what type of research topic you would like to involve during Ph.D program.
Could you explain a ballpark figure of daily life in the lab?
Takemura Lab has a lab meeting once per week. Except for that, there is no lab rules for schedule of each lab members. Professor Takemura usually comes to the lab in relatively early morning and go to home at around 5PM, for supporting his young children. While time schedules are flexible per lab member, students are encouraged to follow a relatively flexible 9-5pm schedule at work. Experiments for human participants will be usually held from 9AM to 4PM. Takemura Lab discourage members to work until late night and strongly supports work-life balance. Remote working is also encouraged, to reduce concerns of covid-19 pandemic.
Are there any chance to go to other countries as Takemura Lab activities?
Takemura Lab regularly attends international conferences, such as annual meetings of Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) and Society for Neuroscience (SfN). If you had a lab research outcome, you will be encouraged to attend and present your work during the meeting (while availability of travel budget support depends upon budget status of the lab). Depending on the progress of your research and your skills, Takemura Lab will consider asking graduate students to join international collaborative projects. Past examples of international collaborations can be found at Publication page.
What are examples of career paths of alumni?
Since Takemura Lab is a new lab and does not have alumni, it is hard to raise specific examples. A certain number of alumni may continue the research as a postdoc. Professor Takemura is happy to support your applications to the postdoctoral position, not only in Japan but also in other countries, by taking the advantage of experiences on international collaborations. However, it is important to emphasize that you should not feel obligated to continue your research after graduations. The career path of Ph.D. should be variable and there are many interesting job opportunity for Ph.D. both in Japan and other countries. I believe that skills you learned during lab activity as a Ph.D. student, such as logical/academic writing, presentation skills in international conferences and data science skills, becomes more important in modern industry jobs. A fundamental goal of our lab activity is to understand humans and the aim of basic science is to better understand principles and theories. While orientations should differ, a need understanding humans can be quite common in other jobs. For examples, clinicians need to understand how to overcome human diseases and industry needs understand how to implement business which meet customer's demand. In both cases, we need to understand humans. Many of my friends in my generation finished Ph.D. in this field work actively in industry jobs now. Takemura Lab supports alumni who wish to continue academic career but also supports graduate students who wish to take industrial career path after obtaining Ph.D.