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NMSU biology professor compares East and West cultures in 'Global Connections' lecture

While New Mexico State University professor Michele Nishiguchi's family heritage allows her to walk easily among the people of many Asian countries, she never quite felt a part of the culture. She will share her personal experience in the next talk for the College of Arts and Sciences' "Global Connections" lecture series.


Woman standing next to a structure
NMSU biology professor Michele Nishiguchi in Bali, Indonesia. (Courtesy photo)
Group of five standing, making gestures
NMSU biology professor Michele Nishiguchi, second from left, poses with students in Tigbauen, Philippines. (Courtesy photo)

Nishiguchi, professor of biology, will present "Southeast Asian Adventures: Accounts from a third generation Japanese American," at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the Creative Media Institute Theatre in Milton Hall.

"Blending-in often means that you can assume an identity that makes others feel more comfortable around you, and they are more willing to share personal experiences with you," Nishiguchi said.

Nishiguchi, who teaches invertebrate zoology, has traveled throughout Asia conducting research on the bioluminescent bacteria found in bobtail squid for more than a decade. Her journeys have included collaborations in Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India and Brunei.

"I'm usually on the coast when I travel, but I get to do a little sightseeing while I'm there," Nishiguchi said. "Bangkok and the Buddhist temples were amazing. I'm a Buddist, and my favorite temple there was the 30-meter reclining Buddha in the temple Wat Pho."

She will begin the discussion with a look at Thailand in 2002 and culminate with last year's trip to the Philippines, where she taught an intensive course in microbial genetics.

Nishiguchi will also compare and contrast the East with the West, and elaborate on how she feels both connected but also disconnected from these different cultures.

"Asian cultures are oftentimes filled with mystery, intrigue and subtle innuendoes of past history," Nishiguchi said. "I love discovering the secrets of each individual culture that I am experiencing in the present."

The "Global Connections" series features faculty members' exotic trips around the world. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for members of the campus and surrounding community to listen and ask questions of NMSU professors about the kind of global first-hand experiences they might never otherwise encounter.

The "Global Connections" series began in September and will be offered on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the CMI Theatre at Milton Hall. The series will run through April 2. The lectures are free and open to the public.