The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) welcomed its 5th class of doctoral students on September 1, 2016. OIST prides itself on creating an international atmosphere, which is represented in this year’s selection of students. This class is the largest and most diverse group thus far in OIST history, with 35 graduate students from 21 different nations and regions spread across 5 continents.
OIST welcomed its 5th class of doctoral students with OIST member Ami Chinen (center)
The welcome ceremony began with a speech from President Jonathan Dorfan. He introduced the university’s three core values to the audience, which are openness in research, the respectful workplace and a commitment to students. He also said it was inspiring to consider the changes that have happened at OIST in those scant four years, from 420 staff and the very first class of students in September of 2012, to 760 staff and a total of 134 PhD students today.
Students each introduced themselves to a gathered audience from the OIST community
Dean Jeff Wickens also emphasized the OIST’s unique ability to recruit an international student and faculty population and characterized the students as the “lifeblood of the university”. Stefan Pommer, Student Assembly Chair, added that “OIST is probably one of the few places where science is not too much limited by fields and departments, but rather by our abilities”. These attributes make OIST a truly special environment for education and research.
Stefan Pommer welcomed the new students to the university
In self-introduction, incoming students also expressed their excitement to begin this chapter in their scientific career. The students represented a diverse group of interests with backgrounds in life sciences and physical sciences/engineering about equal. Some also expressed interest in the university’s newly opened Marine Science Station.
Traditional Okinawan dance performances by OIST member Ami Chinen and her dance group Shimabukuro Ryuu Chihiro Kai
The welcome ceremony ended on a high note, with two special performances from the Shimabukuro Ryuu Chihiro Kai School of Dance. These performances were traditional Okinawan dances to introduce students to the wonder of the island and welcome them to their new home.