|-- Were you interested in explosions or combustion when you were small, for example, fireworks?
Matsuo: I did dream of space. I was a girl who liked science and math, and I was fascinated with picture books about the future, science fiction, and stories about space voyages. I thought, "I will be able to experience something like this if I become an astronaut." So I almost aspired to become an astronaut. But I happened to see Astronaut Chiaki Mukai talking with the prime minister on TV, and..."
Matsuo: She was very diplomatic, which made me think, "Well, I don't think I can do something like that." (laugh) Besides, I was so prone to motion sickness that even a train ride made me sick, so I had to give up on the idea of becoming an astronaut. Instead I came to think, "I might be able to build a spaceship, so..." That's how I made up my mind to major in sciences at university. It happened when I was an elementary-school pupil.
Matsuo: My undergraduate subject of study was mathematics, so it wasn't directly related to space. But after I started my graduate studies at the Nagoya University, I came across computational fluid dynamics, which is my current specialty. After getting my master's degree, I worked for a private research institute that dealt with supercomputers. While at the company, I was given an opportunity to study at Princeton University. After that, I did my Ph.D. and post-doctoral work, both of them as a fellow of the Japan Society of the Promotion of Science. And at that time I also started studying under Prof. Kozo Fujii, at his research laboratory at ISAS (Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science).
Matsuo: The world of space and aeronautical science in Japan seems to be dominated by pure-blooded graduates of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics of the University of Tokyo, but I never tried to be mainstream (laugh).