If Marie Curie had been Japanese

Marie Curie was a role model for Professor Reiko Kuroda throughout her career. Receiving her L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science trophy at La Sorbonne in Paris seemed fitting, as Marie Curie had been a scientist at the prestigious university. The work of the Japanese scientist on chirality– the handedness of molecules– will have many applications, such as finding new cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s.

DiscovHER - What ignited your passion for science?

Reiko Kuroda - I liked almost all subjects at school and it was difficult to decide which one to choose. I loved nature from childhood. I had no natural science background at home as my father was a professor of Japanese literature. Natural sciences appeared attractive and I took chemistry at University. I was a child deeply fascinated by nature, constantly asking ‘why’ – metamorphosis of insects, upside-down or left-to-right, reversed reflection on spoons, etc.

I was also inspired by great scientists like Marie Curie and Rachel Carson - whom I admired from my childhood and post doc days, respectively. I read M. Curie’s biography and R. Carson’s “Silent Spring” and was deeply impressed.

D/H - They are both women. What is your opinion on the position of women in science?

RK - Naturally women contribute a lot to science as history tells us.

To me, there is not a big difference between men and women scientists. The spectrum within a gender is wider than that between genders.

D/H - Can you remember the biggest challenge you faced during your career in science?

RK - To obtain a position at a university which enables me to carry out research. It was almost impossible in my days for women to obtain a good university post unless you were well connected or lucky. My Ph.D. supervisor told me that best thing for women is to get married. Thus, I went to England.

More about Professor Reiko Kuroda:

For Women in Science

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