Michiyo Tsujimura, the Japanese chemist who did in-depth research on green tea, was honored with a Google Doodle on Friday on the 133rd anniversary of her birth.
The Google Doodle shows her studying and extracting the chemical components of green tea. A variety of research components, such as a tea shrub, a cup of green tea, a pen, a flask, and a notepad, were used to form the letters of “Google.”
On Sept. 17, 1888, Tsujimura was born in Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture. She was inspired to pursue a career in scientific research while she was in school.
After Tsujimura graduated, she briefly taught at two different schools for women before joining Hokkaido Imperial University in 1920. As an unpaid laboratory assistant, her research was focused on the nutritional value of silkworms.
Tsujimura transferred to Tokyo Imperial University in 1922, but the lab she was working at was ruined during the catasrtrophic 1923 earthquake. Following her recovery from that disaster, she moved to another lab to work under Dr. Umetaro Suzuki, a doctor of agriculture who discovered vitamin B1.
While working at this lab, Tsujimura and her colleague Seitaro Miura discovered green tea to be a natural source of vitamin C. Due to their research, the amount of green tea being exported to North America increased.
As Tsujimura further explored green tea, she was able to isolate more of its chemical composition, including catechin (a bitter ingredient of tea) and tannin. In 1932, she published her doctoral thesis, “On the Chemical Components of Green Tea.” which included these findings and more, making her Japan’s first woman doctor of agriculture. She went on to patent in 1935 a method of extracting crystallized vitamin C from plants.
Upon completing her research career, Tsujimura became an assistant professor at Ochanomizu University and then the first dean of the Faculty of Home Economics at Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School.
Tsujimura was awarded the Japan Prize of Agricultural Science in 1956 for her research on green tea. In 1968, she was awarded the Order of the Precious Crown, Fourth Class.
She passed away on June 1, 1969, at the age of 80.
There is a stone memorial in Okegawa that celebrates her great accomplishments.