So much to experience in three weeks

by Daniela Fontecha Solano

IRESUVM Participant

Just over three weeks in Yonezawa and I have had the chance to experience a lot with our kind hosts. As food is a huge part of Japanese culture, we have been taken out to try all kinds of things. Upon our arrival, we tried a lot of sushi and ramen. We were also taken to izakaya restaurants, which are traditional restaurants that serve appetizers for the whole table to try. At the izakaya we tried a lot of gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and make-your-own sushi. Most recently we also went to eat okonomiyaki, which are best described as cabbage pancakes. At this restaurant, each table had individual stovetops and they gave you the ingredients for each okonomiyaki which you proceeded to mix and make yourself. Every meal has been very interesting here and the food is something that I’m going to miss when I get back home.

Every day means a new dining experience in Yonezawa. This time: Okonomiyaki
RAMEN!!! MORE RAMEN!! One can never have too much RAMEN!!!

We have also had the opportunity to go exploring quite a bit. Yoshida-sensei took us to see Mt. Zao, which is an incredible volcano near Yamagata. We also had the opportunity to go cherry picking since it is cherry season here. We stayed for a little under an hour but it was enough to try every type of cherry in the orchard and get incredibly full from all the cherries. I have also entertained myself with local hiking, which is only a mile away from the dorms. One hike takes you up to the ridge of the eastern mountains of Yonezawa and allow you to see the rest of the landscape on the other side. Since it is the rainy season, the mountains are often covered in low-lying clouds which can make for amazing hikes.

Breath-taking views of the Mt. Zao volcano near Yamagata City.

I have gotten settled into Masuhara-sensei’s lab with a working plan for my project, working with Sai who is a Master 1 student at Yamagata University. The graduate students at Yamagata University have impressed me with how much they communicate and interact with each other. They have all been very helpful and fun to learn from about their research.

Learning synthesis of perovskite nanoparticles in the Masuhara Lab

Anticipating Arrival at Yonezawa, Japan


by Daniela Fontecha, UVM IRES Participant

Organic Electronics often requires working in a nitrogen atmosphere. Loading the substrates is the first step in preparation for organic thin film vapor deposition in the White Lab at UVM. Doing it with oversized gloves definitely makes it harder than it sounds.

I’m Daniela, a senior majoring in physics and chemistry at North Carolina State University. When I heard about this program I got very excited because I have been wanting to explore research in organic electronics for some time – and to be able to spend my last summer as an undergraduate abroad was just perfect. I arrived at UVM about two weeks ago and had the chance to experience some the neat things Burlington has to offer, such as great food and great views, before heading to Japan. While at UVM we learned and read a lot about our research as well as about Japanese culture. Most of our days were very intensive with Japanese lessons in the morning and research in the afternoon. I learned a lot about the organic electronics research with the guidance of Dr. Furis and Dr. White who also demonstrated experimental techniques related to our projects to prepare us for the labs in Japan. Overall, this has been a great start to the program and I can’t wait to arrive in Yonezawa tomorrow and meet the other professors and students involved in this research.

Hiking the Sterling Pond Trail (Stowe, Vermont) with fellow IRES members Chris Popham (Princeton-left) and Grayson Glosser (UVM-center)