9 Nov 2016

OIST Welcomes Five New Faculty Members

OIST is proud to announce that five new faculty members have joined the university. Prof. Yasha Neiman, Prof. Izumi Fukunaga, Prof. Yejun Feng, Prof. Thomas Bourguignon and Prof. Marylka Yoe Uusisaari (seen from left to right in the image above) are currently adjunct faculty and will be transitioning into full-time assistant or associate professorships over the upcoming months. These new faculty members represent a diverse group of research interests including neuroscience, quantum gravity and genomics.

Prof. Yasha Neiman hails from Israel, where he attended Tel Aviv University for his graduate studies in physics. He came to OIST to lead the Quantum Gravity Unit, which focuses its theoretical research on reconciling the three pillars of fundamental physics: gravitation, particle physics and cosmology. Prof. Neiman is particularly interested in learning how to think about quantum gravity in situations where only a finite portion of space is observable.

Prof. Izumi Fukunaga grew up in Japan and Malaysia, and went to London to study neuroscience. After post-doctoral trainings in Heidelberg and back in London, she came to OIST to investigate how sensory circuits in the brain underlie behavior. As head of the Sensory and Behavioural Neuroscience Unit, she seeks to understand how the brain processes incoming sensory information by studying the sense of smell - how the brain interprets information present in the chemical environment.

Prof. Yejun Feng grew up in China and attended Fudan University in Shanghai for his Bachelor’s degree in Physics. He went to the United States for graduate studies, and received a M.A. degree from the City College of New York and a PhD from the University of Washington, both in Physics. As head of the Electronic and Quantum Magnetism Unit, Prof. Feng’s research at OIST focuses on comprehensive experimental studies of correlated electrons, quantum magnets, and superconductors under pressure/magnetic field tuning. 

Prof. Thomas Bourguignon, leader of the Evolutionary Genomics Unit, is interested in investigating the factors that have helped insects, such as termites and cockroaches, to conquer the world. He received his PhD from the Free University of Brussels and then did three successive postdocs at the Hokkaido University, National University of Singapore, and University of Sydney. His research focuses on the evolution of symbiosis between insects and microorganisms, the historical biogeography of insects and the molecular mechanisms of termite defense.

Prof. Marylka Yoe Uusisaari entered the neuroscience field from computer science and programming background in Helsinki, Finland, after being intrigued by the similarities and differences between artificial and neuronal computation and intelligence. She received her PhD from Helsinki University and postdoctoral training at RIKEN, OIST and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Erasmus Medical Center. Under her guidance, the Neuronal Rhythms in Movement Unit seeks to uncover and understand the “master clock” underlying the coordination of motor activity, through anatomical, electrophysiological, computational and behavioral viewpoints.

OIST is very excited that these five professors bring their expertise to the university. The diverse backgrounds of these new professors helps nurture the international environment and multi-disciplinary research on which OIST prides itself. 

By Sarah Wong


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