I have slowly recovered from the great sadness that Masakazu (Mark) Konishi passed away last week at the age of 87. He was well known for studies in the field of auditory processing in birds, particularly the crucial role of acoustic feedback in bird songs and the neural mechanisms of sound localisation in barn owls. He found coincidence detector neurons in the owl brain that fire when auditory inputs from the left and the right ears arrive. This exquisite neural mechanism taught me the beauty of the organisation of the brain for the first time. It was in a lecture by my previous supervisor, Masaki Sakai, one of Masakazu's friends.
After the sad news last week, Masaki sent me a picture of them with Dr. Catherine Carr, who did the coincident detector work. And he said Masakazu was always devoted, earnest, and sincere to science, and he always wanted to be like Masakazu. I am sure he is because he still does fieldwork to understand how cicadas find the way out from the soil in sweltering summer in Japan, even though he is 76 years old.
While writing grant applications, I sometimes fear and wonder how I can be a good scientist. One solution must be keep learning, thinking, and being sincere to science as my heroes do.