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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul.)

My study,My career

Introducing female researchers active at Waseda University.

Waseda Vision 150 defines the ideal form of our university as we move toward our 150th anniversary in 2032.
One aspect of the vision is "Waseda research which contributes to world peace and the happiness of mankind." As we work to achieve this goal, we expect new perspectives and ideas to be introduced through the activities of female researchers. In the second edition of this series, we spoke with Professor Miho Saito.

Teaching and being taught.
My research is encouraged by relationships with students.

Professor Miho Saito
Faculty of Human Sciences

Encountering color, a subject which has continued to hold my interest

Many wonderful coincidences led me to becoming a researcher in color psychology. Until about the middle of high school, I had wanted to be a designer. However, I developed an interest in science after reading a book about visual illusions. For example, the book discussed how identical lines appear to be of different length due to the direction of arrows. I felt that there may be differences between the world defined by physics and the world perceived by human sensations. I decided to study psychology in order to learn more about such differences.

I had been studying abroad at the University of Sydney during my 2nd year of university. After returning to Japan, I decided to enroll in the seminar of a famous color psychology professor. My interest in color had increased and one day I had a sudden realization. The strong Australian sun changed the way in which I perceived the color of clothing which I had brought from Japan. In other words, different types of sunlight will certainly affect one's preference in colors. Based upon this idea, I selected the theme of "international comparison of color preferences" when writing my university graduation thesis.

Through my research, I observed that color preferences exist by country. For my Master's thesis, I researched differences in color preference between Europe, America and Asia. This research revealed many interesting points. For example, blue is considered to be a feminine color in Europe and America. This is because the Virgin Mary wore a blue gown. Discovering such cultural backgrounds made my research even more exciting and inspired me to continue my work.

While researching at university, learning many things from students

In order to continue research, it is necessary to join a university or research center. I chose a university as my research base because I enjoy teaching others. I especially enjoy the presence of fresh students, and the opportunity to take part in their education before they enter society was another reason that I chose to work at a university. Also, I also felt that periodically conveying the results of my research to students would give me further incentive to concentrate on my daily research.

For a while after becoming a researcher, I worked as a Part-Time Instructor and continued by researching while teaching at a number of different universities. At that time, there weren't many female researchers, a fact which was a slight disadvantage to my career. However, despite such disadvantages, teaching at a university enabled me to acquire so much more. In particular, I learned many things through encounters with students. I often taught classes at art universities, and I naturally learned the importance of diversity through encounters with students who had strange hairstyles or wore unusual fashions. Even today, this is a very important value for me. Furthermore, students see through my act immediately if I relax while teaching classes or seminars. Therefore, I value my time with students and work to keep my classes fresh by incorporating as much new material as possible. "While teaching, learn from your students."-To me, this is the perfect phrase to express my research activities at university.

I want to convey the form of a new university from Waseda

Currently, in addition to my educational and research activities, I serve as Executive Director of the Office for Promotion of Gender Equality and Manager of Fund-Raising. Waseda University founder Shigenobu Okuma was an advocate of equal standards regardless of gender and actively worked for gender equality. My goal as Executive Director is to spread this philosophy of Waseda University to even more people and to broaden our university's perspective in order to create a campus on which anyone can study with peace of mind and comfort.

As a prominent private university, Waseda University is a leader for other universities. Previously, I represented our university when cooperating in a certain symposium. Upon seeing other universities decide to participate in rapid succession, a person affiliated with the symposium gave me the following message of gratitude: "Thank you. If Waseda University takes action, then all private universities also act." I will firmly accept the weight and responsibility of these words as I continue my activities in the future.

Professor Saito's "treasure"-a lunchbox bag made by students when she taught at an art university

Photograph taken when Professor Saito was a guest speaker at an international symposium held at Kyoto University. Taken with other guest speakers from Asia.

Professor Miho Saito
Faculty of Human Sciences

In 1985, completed the Doctoral Program in psychology at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University. Holds a PhD in human sciences. Awarded the Color Science Thesis Prize in 1994. Appointed as Assistant Professor at the School of Human Science, Waseda University in 1996. Currently works as Professor at the Faculty of Human Science. Executive Director of Waseda University. Areas of expertise include color cognitive science and sensory cognitive science. Recent written works include Eyes, Color and Light-Seeking More Advanced Color Replication (Japan Association of Graphics Art Technology) and Introduction to Color Science-The Psychology of Color and Perception (University of Tokyo Publishing).