An Action-Packed Week

Last week the OIST campus was a buzz with activity in both the arts and sciences.

While OIST adheres to a philosophy that rejects barriers between scientific disciplines, the University also seeks out ways to erase the lines between the arts and sciences. In a single week, the campus was a buzz with activity as Nobel Laureates and prominent scientists came to OIST for the Board of Governors and Councilors meetings, Professor Thomas Busch and colleagues held a workshop on 'Coherent Control of Complex Quantum Systems,' Michiko Uehara opened her exhibit of silk textiles, pianist Etsuko Hirose played a concert in the OIST Auditorium and OIST Board member and Nobel Prize winner Yuan T. Lee gave a lecture about the need for society to become more sustainable today -- not tomorrow.

There is no doubt May 9 and 10, 2013 will go down in OIST’s history, as the Board of Governors and Board of Councilors made many important decisions that will impact the future of the University. Most notably, the Board of Governors decided to launch a planning exercise to consider doubling the size of the University over the next 10 years. President Jonathan Dorfan also informed the Boards that the construction of Laboratory 3 will start in the summer of 2013, with completion expected sometime in 2014.

"Much has been achieved and we must look at what needs to be done to consolidate OIST’s position as one of the world’s leading graduate universities," said Board of Governors Chair, Torsten Wiesel.  "One crucial consideration is the ideal size of the University that will allow it to achieve its ambitious goals."

It was also announced that Koji Omi, previously the Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy and for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, has been elected to the Board of Governors.  His term of service begins in October 2013. However, two members of the Board of Governors, Professor Y.T. Lee and Professor Sir Martin Rees, also stood down at the meeting.

On Saturday, May 11, 2013, Professor Lee gave a parting lecture in the OIST Auditorium, entitled ‘Science, Technology and the Sustainable Development of Human Society,' during which he discussed the need for huge reductions in the human ecological footprint. "We are our own enemy," he said during the talk. "We are not doing enough to sustain human life." He also discussed Future Earth, a new 10-year international sustainability research initiative launched through the alliance of many leading organizations, including the International Council for Science, of which Lee is the President.

The Board of Governors and Councilors also attended world-renowned pianist Etsuko Hirose’s concert on May 9, 2013 and skilled silk textile artist Michiko Uehara’s exhibition opening on May 8, 2013.  Hirose, who now lives in Paris, has won numerous prestigious international contests, such as the Frederic Chopin Competition (1992) and the Martha Argerich Competition (1999). Uehara, a local Okinawa artist, uses traditional silk making techniques of the Ryukyu Islands to make textiles that are as light as a feather, but as strong as steel. Her work has been exhibited around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

Last but not least, Professor Busch, head of the Quantum Systems Unit, invited over 65 researchers to OIST for a workshop on the ‘Coherent Control of Complex Quantum Systems’ from May 8 to 11, 2013. The aim of the workshop was to bring together experts and students representing leading theoretical and experimental groups in quantum mechanics. In line with OIST’s interdisciplinary and international philosophy, talks were given by researchers working to understand quantum interactions in systems ranging from superconductors to birds, and hailing from Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

"Outstanding scientific scholarship, research and education blended with world-class cultural events last week," said President Dorfan. "These are the hallmarks of a great center of learning – connoting that OIST has truly come of age."

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