Professor George Iwama Joins OIST

Professor George Iwama will join the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) as Executive Vice President, starting in early January 2014.

Professor George Iwama will join the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) as Executive Vice President, starting in early January 2014. As Executive Vice President he will report to President Jonathan Dorfan, helping to resolve important issues in the President's Office, taking leadership in launching OIST’s private fundraising program, planning for expansion, and establishing centers of excellence such as the anticipated Marine Science Center.

I am delighted that George Iwama has agreed to join OIST. He is a man with exceptional energy, competence, and personal charm.  His outstanding record in university administration and in research and teaching will further strengthen OIST’s senior management as we move into a period of planning for major growth.” said Jonathan Dorfan. ”I am particularly pleased that OIST has brought George back to the island where he was born and raised.”

Professor Iwama is currently President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada. He brings to OIST many years of experience as a professor, university administrator, community leader, and public servant. He was born in Okinawa and left for Canada at age 17. In addition to strong family ties, he has also maintained professional ties to the island, serving on External Advisory Committees at the University of the Ryukyus.

“My wife Marilyn and I keenly anticipate our return to Okinawa. OIST is likely the most exciting venture in graduate education in the world. I am thrilled with this opportunity to come home and contribute to the realization of the Japanese government’s vision of an international, multidisciplinary research university.”

During Dr. Iwama’s distinguished career he has also worked as the Dean of Science at Carleton University in Ottawa and Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Dr. Iwama spent four years as Director General of the Canadian National Research Council's Institute for Marine Biosciences in Halifax.  In that position he led the building of a new industrial partnership facility, working with universities, industries, and government agencies to nurture new companies and attract established life science companies. This experience will be invaluable as OIST develops its own Marine Science Center and a Research and Development Cluster on Okinawa.

Dr. Iwama holds a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia, where he later served on faculty for 15 years. He also gained international experience at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany. He is a comparative physiologist with an interest in the stress responses in fish. He has published 140 peer reviewed scientific papers and edited two books. Drs. George and Marilyn Iwama have three sons and a grandson who live in western Canada.

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