FY2011 General Report - Education and Research

1. Ph.D. Program

(1) Student Recruitment

Intensive student recruitment was conducted within Japan and globally. This included participation in recruitment fairs in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Malaysia, and Indonesia, visits to universities in New York, Boston, and Hawai'i, booths at international conferences and academic meetings in Japan in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Sapporo, as well as in the USA. Applications were received from 179 applicants. After evaluation (detailed below) a total of 41 offers were made.

An online admissions process was established using the services of the same service provider (Embark) that is also used by many of the top research universities in the USA. This has internationalized our appearance and streamlined our process.

(2) Courses

The OIST PhD Program was strengthened with the addition of several new courses in physics and technology, such as electronics and nanotechnology. The basic physics course was also reworked in FY2011 to refine our coverage of the basic physics syllabus, and these changes were approved by MEXT without reservation.

Suitable language programs devoted to Academic English preparation were identified across the English speaking world (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and USA).  These provide quality English language training for higher education in science and technology to those of our students who need this before classes begin in September 2012.

(3) Infrastructure

The university implemented a computerized teaching system using the latest in sophisticated open-source collaboration and teaching software, Sakai CLE. Open source software is a new development in the Japanese educational environment, and ensures a modern approach to teaching and teaching management, with considerable cost savings.

The university constructed a modern multifunctional teaching laboratory, which provides laboratory teaching for all OIST courses in physics and life sciences of various kinds, such as microscopy, cell biology, neuroscience, imaging and optics.

The University Library was brought into full operation. This included the outfitting and furnishing of the library suite in the Center Building and the hiring of a trained librarian and an assistant. The librarian implemented a broad survey of the needs of faculty, particularly new faculty in the physical sciences, for new online journals and books.  The requests were reviewed to establish the library collection management system, and the best and most economical search and access software linked to the online journal collection.

2. Scientific Research

(1) Faculty Recruitment

Studies were carried out to identify the scientific areas that provide the maximum strategic opportunities to OIST Graduate University as planned. The BOG discussed the feasible number or positions and timing for future recruitment. The main focus of discussion was on long-and-medium-term strategies considering the prospective campus development plan in the future. It was agreed that a detailed plan will be presented at the BOG/BOC meeting in May 2012.

President Dorfan and Provost Baughman took the initiative in the preparations and encouraged the Faculty to give input. In October 2011, President Dorfan requested that the Faculty develop ideas for new hires. Proposals were prepared for an Assembly meeting held in October 2011 and opportunities were extensively discussed. including a comprehensive plan prepared with contributions from several faculty. The President and the Provost discussed the faculty development plan with the members of the BOG Steering Committee in November 2011 and there was a subsequent discussion at the Faculty Council meeting on November 28th. In addition, President Dorfan and Provost Baughman visited several institutions around the world, which are conducting cutting-edge research, to collect information.

In the 2nd BOC meeting held in February 2012, the membership of the Academic and Research subcommittee was decided. The subcommittee was established to discuss future directions of academic and research activities of the University including faculty recruitment plans. This subcommittee is playing a key role with the BOG's Steering Committee and Research and Academic Committee.

(2) Promotion of Interdisciplinary Research

Faculty lunch seminars were launched to facilitate mutual understanding and cross-disciplinary discussions among faculty members.

The Science and Technology Group began with five research scientists to promote research in wider fields, including reproductive biology in collaboration with University of Ryukyus and Okinawan art restoration in collaboration with local museums.

Specifications of "Compact X-ray Light Source" and "Okinawa Coastal Ocean Observatory System" were clarified for procurement. Networking with international experts and local fishery coops was advanced.

(3) Research Support

The Common Resource Advisory Committee called for joint proposals of new common equipment and software and evaluated their priorities based on an open presentation/discussion meeting.

The Common Resource Group was reorganized into the Research Support Division to provide comprehensive support of all types of research activities. The following new sections were created:

  • Sponsored Research Section: inform funding opportunities, support grant applications, handle contract making, and check compliance in fund usage.
  • Open Technology Center: promote usage of OIST research facilities by external academic and industrial users to support research and development in Okinawa and to build open research communities around OIST.
  • Physics Resources Section: start up and manage physics common facilities and mechanical/electric workshops

Former Research Support Section was reorganized into Biology Resources Section and took an initiative in building and managing a comprehensive research equipment database.

(4) Publication and Dissemination of Research Results

Consistent with the criteria established for review, researchers continued to publish in high impact journals and to participate in major international conferences. For the period October 2011-March 2012, 56 journal articles (49 international and 7 domestic), 2 books, and 169 presentations (114 international and 55 domestic) were produced.

Number of Publications by unit
# Unit Name Journals Books Presentations
 FY2011   FY2011
International Japanese FY2011 International + Domestic Domestic
1 Arbuthnott 3   1 2 0
2 Bandi 0   0 4 0
3 Busch 1   0 8 0
4 Chakraborty 0   0 3 1
5 Dani 1   0 5 2
6 De Schutter 12   0 17 0
7 Doya 6   1 24 23
8 Economo 0   0 3 0
9 Goryanin 4   0 5 3
10 Hikami 1   2 3 2
11 Isoda 2 1 1 12 7
12 Jenke-Kodama 1   0 3 2
13 Kitano 6   4 27 12
14 Konstantinov 2   0 4 0
15 Kuhn 3   1 4 4
16 Luscombe 2   0 3 0
17 Marquez-Lago 2   0 2 0
18 Maruyama 2   0 5 2
19 Masai 1   0 9 2
20 Mikheyev 2   0 3 1
21 Miller 2   0 6 0
22 Mitarai 4   0 5 2
23 Nic Chormaic 1   0 19 0
24 Price 0   0 4 3
25 Qi 1   0 6 1
26 Samatey 4   0 2 0
27 Satoh 25 1 0 38 28
28 Saze 2   0 3 2
29 Shannon 0   0 19 0
30 Shintake 1   0 1 1
31 Sinclair 4   0 1 0
32 Skoglund 5   0 15 8
33 Sowwan 0   0 1 0
34 Takahashi 0   1 17 2
35 Tanaka 0   0 2 2
36 Tonomura 7   0 0 0
37 Tripp 4 1 1 4 0
38 Van Vactor 0   0 2 0
39 Wickens 8   0 21 11
40 Wolf 0   0 0 0
41 Yamamoto 11 1 1 17 12
42 Yanagida 11   0 17 8
43 Yazaki-Sugiyama 0   0 2 1
44 Gioia 0   0 1 0
  Total 141 4 13 349 142

OIST has had excellent coverage in International, Japanese and Okinawan media. The most influential science publications Nature, Science, and Physics Today carried positive articles on OIST. Nature in particular wrote an editorial in support of the university. The Economist is probably the most influential news magazine in the world and OIST was featured in November 2011. Coverage in Japan's main newspapers has not been so outstanding but this trend is changing as can be seen by the article in Nikkei Shimbun in February and the 5 page article in Nikkei Science in March 2012. Coverage of OIST developments in Okinawa has been excellent and consistently positive. OIST has completely redesigned its public website updating articles on a daily basis so as to keep the general public in Japan and around the world informed. A Facebook site and a YouTube channel have also been created.

  • Press announcements / press releases: 9
  • Press conferences: 3

In addition, OIST put out a lot of Web articles that would otherwise be made into press releases at other organizations. The University consider that the Web is an effective medium especially when reaching out to the international press,.

(5) Research Evaluation

Four reviews of research units were completed. Following guidelines established in the OIST PC, in each case the review committees consisted of external, international experts who carried out independent, evaluations of the research completed.  The results were used to determine evaluation and promotion of faculty and continuation of research units.

3. Collaboration with Industry

(1) Research Exchange and Collaboration

Joint research contracts with three companies and research funding from two private foundations were realized. An agreement with Shionogi was prepared in time for BioJapan and synergized with OIST first presence and OIST President’s participation (allowing for personal meeting between OIST President and Shionogi CEO). This agreement provided the framework for joint research programs.

(2) Patent

A new patent application scheme was designed that allows faster international protection in order to not impede researchers ability to communicate as soon as possible after their invention disclosure. An IP Seminar was run on March 28th where all OIST Researchers were invited, with the participation of Dr. David Secher from Praxis Unico, an international expert in technology transfer closely affiliated with University of Cambridge Technology Licensing Office.

The Technology Evaluation Committee was implemented to provide a formal process of evaluation of inventions and discovery disclosed by OIST researchers. This Committee includes external experts who are bound by the OIST Non-Disclosure Agreement and help making a decision on the opportunity to patent or not.

The Business Development and Technology Licensing Section was established. It focuses on identifying new business or IP opportunities from OIST research.

(3) R&D Cluster Workshop

The second international workshop "Toward the Development of an R&D Cluster in Okinawa" was held in collaboration with the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) as follows.

  • Date: March 29 - 30, 2012
  • Venue: OIST Campus
  • Organizer: OIST Graduate University
  • Cooperation: Okinawa Prefectural Government
  • Participants: Representatives from local industry, academia and government sectors as well as entrepreneurs and experts in Japan and abroad. 40 in total (19 from Okinawa, 14 from mainland Japan, 7 from overseas)
  • Themes:
    • Strategies to Attract, Retain and Develop Human Capital
    • Financial and Business Resources to Promote Entrepreneurship
    • International and National Networking and Physical Infrastructure Planning

A major finding was that, while there exists a number of efforts to enhance R&D capabilities, there is a missing element in the future development of Okinawa: an organization that is responsible for planning, coordinating, implementing, and monitoring programs related to R&D cluster development on a daily basis. The steering group of the workshop outlined the minimum specifications of this organization: 1) Autonomous operation; 2) clear purpose and vision; 3) governance with local and international representation; 4) highly expert in diverse agenda; 5) flexible and results‐oriented implementation. In addition, the need for a holistic approach to develop the entrepreneurial environment by implementing diverse projects was discussed in parallel. At the workshop, 45 action items in 7 areas were recommended as programs that impact over the short or long‐term.

4. Global Networking

Six academic exchange agreements drawn up by the Promotion Corporation were successfully transferred to the new School Corporation. In addition, OIST began tentative negotiations with other universities such as Osnabroeck in Germany and Harvard University in the USA that may lead to Academic exchange agreements in the next year.

A specialist position was created to manage OIST academic exchange relationships, to enhance the number and range of connections between OIST and other top-tier research universities across Japan and the world. This position was filled, and several high-caliber candidates were interviewed.

The OIST short-term research assistantship has proven to be very popular though FY2011 and into FY2012. For example, by closing date of March 31, 2012 for applications for the summer period of July to September 2012, OIST received applications from 37 students for six positions. In the final period of FY2011 (January to March 2011) OIST hosted:

  • Six workshops organized by OIST (290 participants)
  • Three jointly organized workshops (118 participants)
  • Four externally organized workshops (362 participants)

There were 49 joint research agreements with universities and research institutes, of which 12 are located overseas.

5. Local Networking

The Open Technology Center started an initiative in research and development of slow-digesting rice in collaboration with the University of Ryukyus, Kyushu University, Okinawa Prefecture, and companies in agriculture, food, and alcohol industry. An international network was formed with marine scientists who are interested in running experiments by utilizing the infrastructure of the Okinawa Coastal Ocean Observatory System.

In 2011, the OIST Community Relations Section changed from a reactive to a proactive strategy. In place of responding to requests for tours of the campus, the section defined which groups they wanted to visit and actively invited them to the university. The first stage was to open the Campus to the general public for non-guided tours, which started in April as did regular guided tours. Local companies and associations and in particular schools were contacted and proposed tours of OIST. As a result, in FY2011 alone, over 10,000 visitors toured the OIST campus. This compares to 2,000 in 2010. Of the 10,000 visitors, 1,915 were high school students. OIST faculty and staff continued to give lectures at local schools, including schools on Ishigaki Island. OIST held its second Open Campus event on its Onna campus on Sunday, March 18, drawing a total of 3,012 visitors from Okinawa and beyond. OIST has aggressively pursued its ambition that every high school student on Okinawa will visit OIST. The program has been very successful. On two occasions over 700 students visited the campus over two days. A major exhibition of Okinawan ceramics "Hamon-Science meets Art" was organized at OIST June-November.

  • Number of visits: 524 groups and 4,957 persons exclusive of Open Campus (3,012)
  • Number of local students who visited OIST: 1,689
  • Number of lectures and talks for local students: 5 (4 junior high schools in Onna, and 1 in Ishigaki Island)"