Thursday, 25. July 2013 - 18:04

Seeing is Believing

On July 25, the members of the House of Representatives’ Special Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation visited OIST. The 9-member delegation, led by Committee Chairperson Mr. Kisaburo Tokai, started their visit with a short presentation by Provost Robert Baughman outlining the Graduate University, followed by a presentation on ongoing research projects by Dr. Takanari Ichikawa, Scientific Senior Manager of the OIST Business Development Section. In the lively Q&A session that followed, topics including student recruitment and future development of the university were discussed. Provost Baughman explained that the recruitment of talented students from all over the world has been carried out based on very high standards and that the Board of Governors in May 2013 reaffirmed the goal of 300 faculty as the target size of the university.

The policymakers were then taken on a tour of the OIST campus which included visits to the labs of Prof. Kenji Doya’s Neural Computation Unit, Prof. Ulf Skoglund’s Structural Cellular Biology Unit, Prof. Hidetoshi Saze’s Plant Epigenetics Unit, and Prof. Mukhles Sowwan’s Nanoparticles by Design Unit. There, the group saw state-of-the-art equipment first-hand while being briefed by each faculty member on their individual unit’s research. Asked why they have come all the way from overseas to conduct research in Okinawa, Prof. Skoglund pointed to the freedom to carry out a combination of both theoretical and experimental projects simultaneously. By briefly introducing each member of his unit to the delegation, Prof. Sowwan underlined the OIST emphasis on interdisciplinary research, saying that his unit is comprised of people with different nationalities and backgrounds, from engineering to biochemistry to magnetics, making the group seem like “a small UN.”

In closing, Provost Baughman asked the lawmakers to help OIST with generating more visits to the University, explaining that “seeing is believing.” Chairperson Tokai concurred, saying the committee members were very impressed with OIST and that they would like to study ways to help spread the word about OIST.

By Kaoru Natori

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