A Franklin & Marshall College astronomy professor and his students visited a Japanese university this summer to present talks on their pulsar research and train astronomy students to remotely operate one of the world’s largest radio telescopes.
“It was a scientific and cultural exchange, the first connection between F&M and Kumamoto University,” Professor of Astronomy Fronefield Crawford said.
The university initiated the idea of a student/faculty exchange with F&M’s Japanese Language program, said Ken-ichi Miura, director and teaching professor of the program.
“We have not established an exchange program yet, but we can certainly call it a partnership,” Miura said. “We both agreed that their program and ours are a good match in terms of quality of courses, campus life, and support system.”
Next summer, Miura will teach a course, "Kumamoto: Past, Present and Future," on the campus of Kumamoto, located in the city of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan.
F&M sophomore Ye Lin, junior astrophysics majors Christopher Chapman and Elisa Panciu, and alumnus Benjamin Nguyen ’18 accompanied Crawford and presented talks on their research to an astronomy professor and his graduate students at Kumamoto University.
“It gave them practice in speaking before graduate students about complex material as well as practice speaking before a foreign audience,” Crawford said.
The three students and Nguyen also trained their Japanese counterparts in operating the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico that F&M students use routinely in pulsar and other astronomy research.
“They instructed the Japanese students on how to operate Arecibo, and so now the Japanese students can do observations of pulsars with Arecibo remotely from Japan,” Crawford said.
The F&M students finished their two-week exchange with a few cultural excursions around the region, including a visit to the erupting volcano, Mount Aso.