Tag Archives: Kyoto University

Spider man! スパイダーマン!

This is the first post for a long time.  Sorry for the absence.  I am progressing on my studies… slowly.  I have applied for some jobs recently but not getting many nibbles, so keep casting.   During the last trip to Sabah, I got a great deal on a camera that can get some close up shots.  The great Kyoto autumn weather has allowed for a few photo sessions lately.  Here are some spiders and other critters from campus.

Being a modern student

Coming back to study at university after a 15 break was bound to be a challenge.  To be honest, I did not know what to expect.  My years of working with WWF were marked with enormous amounts of job satisfaction.  One of the reasons it took so long to come back to start my PhD was that I loved working on marine conservation.  I got to do exactly what I had wanted to do all my life.  But it was also marked by massive levels of stress and week after week with daily schedules packed completely full with meetings, meetings and more meetings.  That only left my free time to complete reports and try to do any real work.  Coming back to school was going to be a luxury to focus on just one thing.  And it has been… kind of.

During my Bachelor and Master degrees I spent hours and hours in the library stacks searching through journals and standing at the photocopier.  I was always better at finding interesting articles than I was at reading them and processing them.  In my 3 years at Kyoto University, I haven’t photocopied a single paper.  Now its all digital.  There are no more card catalogs.

My Kindle is one of my favorite tools.  When I started the PhD, I got a Kindle and hoped to read journal articles on it.  Mostly this was to avoid printing and printing and printing.  Unfortunately, that Kindle was not good at processing PDF files.  It was nearly impossible to read a PDF on that device.  I had a great service that made the conversions for me, but they were clumsy.  Then I lost that kindle.


I broke down and bought another Kindle last year.  This was the 2nd Generation Kindle Paperwhite.  Its has the same kind of functions as my previous one, but it is touchscreen, has a back-lit screen, and is much more versatile.  Amazon has created several features that convert the PDF journal articles to Kindle format and I can simply email papers to the Kindle.  It doesn’t do well for charts and tables but it does a great job with text.

I also read for a bit of pleasure with the Kindle and the amount of material you can find online, for free, is enormous.  With Kindle’s great “Send to Kindle” button my Firefox web browser I can even email webpages to my Kindle to read later.

My other favorite tool is Mendeley.  Mendeley is a free service that helps to keep track of academic papers.  It organizes all my PDFs, gives them keywords, and can integrate with MS Word to create bibliographies.  This makes everything so much easier to manage and access.

Screenshot of my Mendeley online library.

Screenshot of my Mendeley online library.

Lastly, I use Evernote to keep track of my notes on the readings.  I am now linking Evernote to my Kindle so that the passages I highlight when I’m reading get automatically sent to Evernote.  Its amazing.

Great time to be a student.  These tools are stunning.  Information is so much easier to find.  But, I do miss the long hours in the library.

Final field trip

My PhD research is a year behind schedule.  The process of getting my research permit and subsequent visa was supposed to take 4-6 months.  It eventually took 14 months and left me with a very short period to complete my field data collection.

I have now finished two data collection trips to Malaysia and am now back in Kyoto processing the data and getting ready to analyze, write, and publish.

Over the course of the two trips I conducted 59 interviews, interviewed 75 respondents, taking 34 hours and 14 minutes.  Interviews were conducted in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kota Kinabalu, Kudat and Semporna.  I interviewed government officers, consultants, NGO representatives, and fishermen.  During the second trip, I had the help of a great research assistant, Lau Chai Ming, who assisted with translations and scheduling of appointments.

Chai Ming - My research assistant for the second trip.  Was really lucky to find such a great assistant.

Chai Ming – My research assistant for the second trip. Was really lucky to find such a great assistant.

We hung out around fishing jetties in Kudat and Semporna and met with fish traders and fishing boat owners. Trawlers are common in Kudat.  They drag a net behind them along the bottom of the sea and scoop up anything that is living along the bottom.  Its a pretty destructive form of fishing.

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We also got to visit Pulau Banggi and see the great work of the Banggi Youth Club.  The Youth Club conducts awareness activities with local communities and works closely with WWF.

Some members of Banggi Youth Club.

Some members of Banggi Youth Club.


In Semporna we observed the Mabul tuna landing.  Fishermen use small boats to spend 2 to 3 days at sea and pull up tuna with just a line and a hook. Without any other equipment they can land tunas that weigh up to 70 kg.  The ones we watched them land were in the 20 to 30 kg size.

We were even lucky enough to get invited onto a purse seine boat during a trip out in Semporna.  Unfortunately, there was a full moon the week we were in Semporna so the purse seiners were not able to fish very much.  They spent most of the week at the jetty doing repairs and mending nets.  On our last night we got invited out.  Here’s a short video of one of the exciting parts – little fish jumping in green light.


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