2011 Fellow's Research Projects

Adawiyah Dede, Indonesia

Research Themes The effects of heat-moisture treatment on the physical properties of arenga and sago starches


My research is on arenga and sago starches, which are derived from plants in the palm family that range widely in Indonesia. Sago starch is used in industry and is imported to Japan for Udon-noodle production. Arenga, on the other hand, is used in Indonesia for traditional noodles and sweets, but has not been researched in depth. The aim of my research is to compare the physical properties of the two starches to provide information for utilization of them in food processing. I am also trying to find ways to modify the physical properties of starches without using chemicals.

I am a researcher as well as a teacher at department of food science and technology in anagricultural university. While I am in Japan, I hope to receive technical guidance and new knowledge from my advisor, Kohyamasan, and also learn about laboratory management.

Yadahally Nareppa Sreerama, India

Research Themes Investigation into the mechanisms and functional components of beans


In my research, I investigate phytochemicals in beans. Phytochemicals are useful components contained in plants that show promise in the fight against lifestyle-related diseases. One well-known type of phytochemical is isoflavone in soy beans. In India, a kind of bean called moong bean is widely consumed, but the bean peel is usually removed and used for cattle food or thrown away. I am seeking a way to extract phytochemicals from the bean peel. I would like to look into the possibility of using Japanese red beans as well.

The day I came to Japan, I was so impressed with the research environment that had been arranged for my work. Now I really am able to concentrate on my research.

Zhang Xiao-Feng, P.R. China

Research Themes Studies on functional components for lipid metabolism from garlic or onion family


Lifestyle-related diseases are becoming a serious problem in China as well as in other countries. The aim of my research is to find active substances contained in certain vegetables and use these substances to develop supplements and health foods that can prevent lifestyle-related diseases. Our current focus is on allium or onion family , but since there are many different kinds of vegetables in China I would like to identify those with the greatest potential. When we have a better understanding of the useful components of these vegetables, we may be able to develop cultivation methods that maximize those beneficial components.

One attraction of this program for me is the chance to work together with researchers from other countries. At first I felt relieved to see that there was one other Chinese researcher participating in the program, but now I am very comfortable with researchers from all over the world.

Zhang Jinxiang, P.R. China

Research Themes Enzymatic preparation of glycosides from free sugars


In my research I focus on enzymes, seeking new enzymes that are useful for people’s health. The research is not easy and requires a lot of patience, but with cutting-edge facilities I am able to acquire the skills I need as a researcher. My everyday life here has been very fulfilling. Tsukuba has excellent research institutes everywhere in the city, creating an academic atmosphere. The environment here is very stimulating and I really appreciate this opportunity to learn Japanese culture and communicate with other people.

When I was in China, my senior researcher, who has come to Japan with this fellowship program, said, "This program is wonderful!" and recommended it to me. I feel very lucky that he told me about it.

Sukatta Udomlak, Thailand

Research Themes A study of phytochemicals extracted from Thai tropical fruit and its byproducts


I am studying the phytochemicals contained in the peel of mangosteens, one of the most famous fruits from Thailand. If we can efficiently extract the phytochemicals that are beneficial for people’s health, the market value of mangosteens will increase, which will contribute to farmers’ incomes. In addition to mangosteens, I am also looking into the potential health benefits of extracts from other herbs and vegetables that are commonly grown in Thailand. I hope my research can lead to real improvements in public health.

It means a lot to me that I could meet my advisor and fellow researchers through this program. I am enjoying my life here as well as my research using advanced facilities and equipment.

Interview with the fellows

Since you came to Japan and started your research, what has impressed you?

The first thing that comes to mind is the advanced facilities, of course, but we also feel very grateful for the support that all the advisors and staff members give us. We really appreciate their efforts to arrange the environment in such a way that we can focus on our research without any concerns.

Are there things that you do together with other researchers?

We get along well in our personal lives so we spend a lot of time together. Since we all live in the same guesthouse next to the NFRI, we have enjoyed getting to know each other by, for example, preparing meals together and tasting each other’s dishes. On holidays, we have climbed Mt. Tsukuba, gone to local festivals and to see fireworks, and taken a trip to Akihabara. Rama (Yadahally Nareppa Sreerama from India) is like our leader and comes up with a lot of fun ideas.

Is there any advantage to five researchers working together in the same research institute?

One wonderful thing about this United Nations University Kirin fellowship is that by giving us grants for our research it makes it possible for researchers from different backgrounds to exchange ideas, learn about other cultures, and grow together in Japan. It is very important for us to have people we can share our experiences with and in fact none of us has become homesick. We are all really looking forward to the trips to Kyoto and Disneyland.

Are there things that you want to achieve together in the future?

First, we would like to obtain the best possible results from our research while we are in Japan. We hope that we can inspire each other and learn from each other. We have a special opportunity to continue communicating in this family-like relationship that we have created here. By cooperating with each other, we will be able to produce exciting results from our research.

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