Lisa Morton: Intern at Misonou Lab

For my CIP, I was lucky enough to volunteer as a research intern in the Misonou Lab at the Doshisha Graduate School of Brain Sciences. The lab focuses on the cell biology of neurons, specifically the nature of tau proteins and the role they play in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. The work being done in Misonou sensei’s lab is fascinating, and it was humbling to get to witness the day-to-day work that (I believe) will amount to life-improving findings. I primarily spent my time assisting two PhD students in the lab, and in them, I feel like I have found not only mentors and role models but true friends. Initially, our relationship was quite professional, but we bonded through the challenges and successes we shared in the lab. At first, I wondered if this bond I felt I shared with them was all in my head. I figured to them, I might be more of a burden than anything — that American intern who doesn’t understand any Japanese scientific terms and gets in the way more than she helps. A few weeks into interning, however, they began inviting me to hang out and explore Kyoto and Osaka on the weekends. Having afternoon tea in Osaka Castle park and admiring a lunar eclipse together with them have got to be some of my most treasured memories from all of KCJS. Misonou sensei once told me that he was excited to have me as an intern because he thought my “American friendliness” might help bring his busy grad students out of their shells. This was immediately hilarious to me as an introverted over-thinker, and I worried that I might let him down somehow. After all, the grad students were undeniably incredibly busy, and at first, were incredibly formal and serious. I now believe this to be less about them having shy personalities or them playing into Japanese social customs and more about the deep respect they have for each other and for the work at hand. This is something I truly admire and will take away with me as I continue my studies in America. Because this respect is something we all mutually shared (and because I may be undermining American stereotypes with my lack of outgoingness), our bond was slow to form but is deep. I am incredibly grateful for this. When I return to America, I hope to stay in touch with everyone in the lab, and even have plans to meet one of the grad students next year at a neuroscience conference!

2 thoughts on “Lisa Morton: Intern at Misonou Lab

  1. I think you had one of the coolest CIPs out of everyone this semester! The “American friendliness” bit is so cute, and I’m so glad that you got to make such strong relationships, both socially and professionally! It’s difficult to go out of your shell and make professional connections in Japan, especially when language is such a huge barrier, but the fact that you were able to do something so unique and catered to what you’re passionate about in a professional setting through your CIP is so amazing!

  2. Lisa,
    I loved getting to read your logs every week and it makes me so happy to know you’ll have an experience you’ll be remembering for your lifetime. I wonder how this helped you feel about yourself (as you said you’re an introverted over-thinker) and how that relates to your personality and how you express that in both English and Japanese. <3