Lehigh University and Rice University launched the 2022-2023 TOMODACHI-STEM Women’s Leadership and Research Program in September with a series of virtual workshops and cultural exchanges.

Led by two of the United States’ top-ranked research universities – Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Rice University in Houston, Texas – the program serves as a catalyst for female Japanese students in STEM, encouraging them to pursue graduate study and further research in the future.

The TOMODACHI-STEM program offers research internships and cultural and leadership programming for female Japanese university students. Ten students from universities throughout Japan were selected for the 2022-2023 program.

The program began with an online orientation and program foundation, including activities related to career development, research investigation, English language enrichment, team building and cultural exchange, from September 6 through September 19.

The participants attended a live virtual class, “Oral Communications in the STEM Fields.” They refined their level of English proficiency by focusing on developing their confidence, authority, and effectiveness in communicating in intercultural contexts in the classroom, in the research laboratory, in giving presentations, and in casual conversations and emails.

One key activity they engaged in is “virtual roommates,” where they vlog and exchange comments and resources with an assigned roommate who is a more senior female student in the STEM fields in the United States. A second activity involved them interviewing and presenting about their host professors or hosting senior students at either Lehigh University or Rice University. The virtual program introduced the projects on which the students will be working this spring and a first opportunity for them to prepare for the challenges of living and conducting research in the U.S.

The in-person portion of the program will take place in February and March of 2023. The students will travel to the U.S. and work in a research laboratory under the close advisement and mentorship of a U.S. graduate student and professor. The group will be split between Lehigh’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and College of Arts and Sciences and Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering and Wiess School of Natural Sciences.

At the end of the program, the Lehigh group will join their fellow students in Houston, Texas, where the full cohort will visit NASA and Dow Chemical.

This program is generously funded by Dow Chemical Japan.

2022-2023 TOMODACHI-STEM Participants

Lehigh University group
Asuka Kido, who is studying pharmaceutical sciences at Kyoto University, will work with Daniel Babcock, assistant professor in biological sciences.
Hinata Moriyama, who is studying industrial engineering and economics at Tokyo Institute of Technology, will work with Larry Snyder, professor in industrial and systems engineering.
Ayane Tezuka, who is studying physics at Nara Women’s University, will work with Timm Wrase, assistant professor in physics.
Nasa Tsuchiya, who is studying aeroastro engineering at University of Tokyo, will work with Nader Motee, professor in mechanical engineering and mechanics.
Mako Yamada, who is studying material science at Osaka University, will work with Helen Chan, professor in materials science and engineering.
Rice University group
Yukina Honda, who is studying molecular and cellular biology at Nara Women's University, will work with Michael Stern, professor of biosciences.
Yurika Ryu, who is studying pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Tokyo, will work with Omid Veiseh, assistant professor of bioengineering.
Sako Sunami, who is studying earth science at Tohoku University, will work with Kirsten Siebach, assistant professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences.
Akiho Tanaka, who is studying applied physics at the University of Tokyo, will work with Guido Pagano, assistant professor of physics and astronomy.
Lilica Tomita, who is studying mechanical engineering at Waseda University, will work with Geoff Wehmeyer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.