Atsushi Kawamura

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Please tell us about your specialty.

My specialty is the field of "Natural Products Chemistry". Substances (organic compounds) produced by various organisms such as animals, plants, and fungi are called natural products. The effects of natural products are wide-ranging, including substances called hormones that control the state of living organisms from within the body, toxic substances, and substances whose effects have not yet been elucidated. Some of these substances have powerful effects that cannot be imagined by human beings, and some have unexpected effects. As for chemical structures, natural products often produce structures that cannot be designed by human beings or structures that are difficult to synthesize chemically (artificially create substances). In my specialty "Natural Product Chemistry" we conduct (1) exploratory research on new natural products that have not been discovered so far, and (2) chemical synthesis of natural products that have not yet been artificially created (called total synthesis) In addition, (3) We will conduct the above research to clarify how natural products with powerful and unique effects bring about their effects. Above all, I have mainly conducted research on (1) discovering new natural products and (2) artificially creating them myself from scratch.

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Many of the medicines and pesticides currently in use have roots in natural products. I myself have dealt with natural products that have anti-tumor effects and natural products that have anti-inflammatory effects. Natural product chemistry, and my own future outlook, is that natural products will contribute to the advancement of science and technology through pharmaceuticals and pesticides as before, and beyond.

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What made you become a researcher?

I feel that the reason I became a researcher was "the field change from physics to chemistry as I entered graduate school." Until my fourth year at university, I was doing research in the field of physics. I wasn't dissatisfied with my laboratory life or research itself, but I really vaguely felt, "research about natural product chemistry seems to be fun" and decided to change fields at graduate school. I can't remember the exact moment this occurred to me. From there, I started studying chemistry from the basics and somehow managed to enter graduate school. Due to the difficult process during this time, I did not have the option of quitting chemistry research so easily, and by the time I realized it, I had become a researcher. I think I will continue to be a researcher as long as I find it fun.

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Please tell us about moments that are enjoyable and rewarding while researching.

I find it most enjoyable when I am planning my research. When I'm actually moving my hands conducting research, it's physically difficult, and if something goes wrong, I feel discouraged. However, at the planning stage, I experience the joy of thinking about the theory of research and imagine getting good results. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I have a positive personality so I don't often think about failure. Therefore, the "research planning stage" is where I enjoy research the most and have the most fun without much trouble.

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Do you have any goals you are aiming for now?

The goal I am aiming for now is to submit papers to top journals (highly rated journals). There are many important things such as enjoying research, contributing to society, and education, but in order to achieve them, it is necessary to improve and maintain your position as a researcher. Researchers, especially young researchers like myself, must continue to produce results and survive in a highly competitive environment. To do that, it is required to submit papers to top journals. This is not the ultimate goal, of course. There are broader goals, such as sublimating natural products into pharmaceuticals, contributing to the development of science and technology, and being able to continue research that I find fun for the rest of my life. In order to do that, the goal is to submit papers to top journals.

Can you show me three things, such as your favorite work tools, items, books, and items purchased at the academic conference?

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・The book "Structure determination of organic compounds" by Erno Pretsch, P Buhlmann and C Affolter

As the title suggests, it is a collection of data, not a reference book. I have been using it since I was a student, and I lost it once, and purchased it again a year ago. It covers a considerable amount of data required for analyzing organic compounds. I recommend it for students who major in organic chemistry and feel they are not good at instrumental analysis.

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HP Chromebook 11 x360 (like a very cheap and simple laptop PC)

A laptop PC purchased locally while studying abroad at the University of Florida in the United States. It is similar to netbooks that have been sold in the past, and its main purpose is to eliminate unnecessary functions from general laptop computers as much as possible and to use it for connecting to the Internet. Since the specifications are inferior to those of laptop PCs, it can be purchased at a very low price, and I bought it in the states for $215. Although it is low on specs and is difficult to use for regular research, it can be used to make PowerPoint presentations, it is lightweight, and the display can rotate 360 ° (can be used as a laptop and tablet). It will come in handy when presenting at an academic conference. When I purchased it two years ago, it was a type that could not be purchased in Japan, and although a similar type can now be purchased in Japan, it is still expensive compared to the price sold in the United States, so I feel that I made a good purchase.

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NMR and recently purchased NMR tube for measuring very amount samples (analytical equipment regularly used in research activities)

It is an indispensable analytical instrument for my research and research in the field of chemistry. This device is used for elucidating the chemical structure of compounds. It's a very powerful tool. By measuring and analyzing a compound with this device, it is possible to clarify the planar structure and three-dimensional structure of the compound. I have previously found a novel natural product from marine organisms and clarified its chemical structure by using this NMR measurement, various instrumental analysis, organic synthesis technology, and computational chemistry description, etc. The analysis by this NMR device formed the core of that research and led to the success of the research. It's one of my favorite devices.

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In addition, I will also introduce a special NMR tube (container for measuring samples) that can measure even when the sample amount is so small that it would be difficult to measure. I used to use something similar when I was a graduate student five to six years ago, but it has become possible to measure even smaller samples. It is also useful in my current research.

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