I am a last-year PhD student working in the Complex Chemical Systems group at the University of Glasgow under the supervision of Prof. Lee Cronin.
The first time I visited Japan was last summer when I attended the Origins 2014 conference in Nara.
I was really lucky to stay in Nara for about a week to enjoy all the old temples, the deer in the middle of the street and its welcoming atmosphere. After spending a few days in Tokyo, climbing Mt. Fuji (totally recommended!) and going back to Osaka in a very short trip, I felt that I was still missing a lot of things to see in Japan. I could only stay for three days in Tokyo and that was clearly not enough to enjoy such a big city with so many different things to see. After all, I left Japan without knowing if I would have another chance to visit it again within a long time.
However, I had the chance to visit Japan for the second time to attend another Origin of Life related conference: the 3rd ELSI International Symposium. Despite being a relatively small conference, the keynote speakers, the organisation, the venue and the overall atmosphere were outstanding. Since I have not been involved in Origin of Life research for more than two years, attending a meeting like the ELSI Symposium made me realise that this field is extremely interdisciplinary and that helped me as a new researcher to understand that the Origin of Life problem involves many different disciplines.
As a chemist working with automated platforms trying to find out the simplest conditions by which the polymers of life can be made in a laboratory, attending the meeting gave me the opportunity to learn the latest research in the field, as well as having the chance to share our work with some of the most knowledgeable researchers in this area. This interaction helped me to address questions, problems and things to improve about our work that I hadn't thought about before, which was very positive.
In my opinion, I would totally recommend attending the ELSI international symposiums, and I look forward to going to Japan again for a conference and repeating this incredible experience.