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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2013)

A WASEDA Miscellany

Zhen-Bo Cao

Life after PhD:
A Researcher's Personal Journey

Zhen-Bo Cao
Ph.D., Faculty of Sport Sciences

Time flies like an arrow; 12 years have passed since I arrived in Japan, and more than five years have passedsince I completed my PhD. At this stage in my life, I reflect on my work since then. Following the completionof my PhD program in 2007, I gained employment at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition. At thetime, Dr. Izumi Tabata, who was the leader of the Health Promotion and Exercise Program and was pivotalin the formulation of the “Exercise and Physical Activity Reference for Health Promotion 2006 (EPARHP2006),” established a major project for the EPARHP 2006 revision. As a participant in this project, I engageddaily in studies in the fields of physical activity/fitness along with nutrition and health, which involvedscientific evaluation methods and evidence-based studies for health promotion. While in graduate school, Ilearned much about exercise and health through my research on the effectiveness of exercise and nutritionintervention for middle-aged and elderly people. However, participating in this project equipped me witha diverse range of hands-on experience in the fields of exercise, nutrition, and health. During this time,the project provided an environment that offered me the opportunity to fully utilize the research resources,enabling me to make good propositions and execute them with the confidence that I would be secondto none. By the time I left the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, I had had five papers published ininternational academic journals, which enabled me to improve my research performance. Furthermore, I wasafforded the honor of presenting at international conferences and formulating research plans and annualreports for the projects. This experience provided me with a firm foundation for my present standing in myresearch life. In addition, during my second year at the institute, I was given the chance to work as a parttimeinstructor at a university. This experience also significantly contributed to my current education andresearch activities as a university instructor.

In the fall of 2009, I transferred to my current position at the Faculty of Sport Sciences at Waseda University,which was selected for the Global COE Program: Sport Sciences for the Promotion of Active Life. My workas part of the Global COE Program has involved conducting my own research, educating PhD students inthe Graduate School of Sport Sciences, constructing educational systems for PhD students, planning andrunning international symposia, summarizing research achievements, and proposing and implementinginternational exchanges. In addition to bearing the responsibility for this major program, I have obtainedimportant practical experiences. Since teaching staff and students on the Global COE Program work closelywith one another, students often approach me with questions, consultations over research and overseasstudy, and occasionally even for counseling. While this is a lot for a young teacher such as myself to dealwith, whenever one of my PhD students publishes a paper, I feel happy and satisfied at being able to help.At the same time, largely through my own initiatives, I have acquired the ability to create a coherent researchflow, from planning to the acquisition of research funding, experiments, data analysis, and publication ofthe results. All this has allowed me to believe that, for the first time, I have truly become an independentresearcher. Although I consider my life as a university instructor to be completely different from my tenureat the National Institute of Health and Nutrition, I am frequently reminded of how much the “discipline” Icultivated at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya and the National Institute of Health andNutrition continues to support me. Overall, the past five years have been a busy but extremely rewardingperiod in my life.