TEDxKyotoUniversity 2016 2nd Speaker Interview – Dr. Masaharu Motokawa


Sosuke:                  Good morning everybody, Sosuke Ichihashi here, and welcome to our second TEDxKyotoUniversity Interview. Today we have Dr. Masaharu Motokawa, curator of Zoological Collection of our Kyoto University Museum. Thank you for being here with us Dr. Motokawa.

Motokawa:          The pleasure is mine.
S:            So, Dr. Motokawa, I see that you are interested in Biodiversity, can you share with us how that started?


M:           Well, I wasn’t always interested in biodiversity; instead, I was interested in the difference in shapes between animals. But my professor suggested that I study biodiversity first, after which I could study their shapes. I followed his advice, and was hooked ever since.


S:           I see. Can you tell us more about your work on Biodiversity?


M:          I’m currently researching the biodiversity of Asian mammals, particularly mice, moles and bats. I began by studying Japanese mammals, but soon enough I faced a problem; I could not clearly determine their roots, as East and South-east Asian biodiversity were not sufficiently studied, and existing studies were limited to their countries; there was no inter-Asian collaboration in this field. I came to realize it prevented us from understanding biodiversity; that a particular animal would have different names in each country. So I often go those countries and compare animals in those countries by myself. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. Now I’m creating a network of researchers to solve the problem caused by borders. Such kind of research had existed since the last century, but it had never been practical. Nowadays, Southeast Asian countries can afford this inter-Asian research, but because of the environmental challenges we are currently facing, maintaining the biodiversity all across SE Asia is proving to be a difficult, and an urgent mission.


S:           Indeed, climate change, deforestation and other problems already drove countless species to extinction, preventing this is urgent to say the least. Can we expect to hear about this in October’s TEDx Talk?


M:          Definitely. Specimens are the foundation of my biodiversity research, so I will share with you why I they are this critical not only for my research, but for the future preservation of biodiversity.


S:           I’m certainly looking forward to hearing about it! So Dr. Motokawa, Do you have any closing comments or advice aspiring zoologists?


M:          The most important thing is personally experiencing and observing things. You should not restrict your vision to what is already, there. Only by new experiences do we make progress as researchers. You should definitely learn to discuss with everybody, and express your opinion.


S:           Great Advice! Again thank you for being here today with us Dr. Motokawa, and I look forward to seeing you again soon at our TEDx talk. Thank you for tuning in to our interview, and stay tuned for our future interviews.