Tomorrow’s scientific leaders and historic cultural spectacles were highlighted together as Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) welcomed the Eighth Class of students, and newly-joining members of faculty and staff.
OIST President Peter Gruss delivers his speech from the podium
OIST President Dr Peter Gruss gave the keynote address, outlining key elements of the University’s ambitious goals for the decade ahead. Read President Gruss’s address in full here.
New members of the research and education community were also entertained by traditional Okinawan music, dance and memorable acrobatics from the iconic Shisa Lion Dog. Dean of the Graduate School, Professor Ulf Skoglund, extended a personal welcome to each new student, and Student Council Chair Adrian David shared essential advice and pledged friendship and support.
The first 54 of this year’s new PhD students (46 of whom were able to attend the ceremony) – selected from more than 900 of the world’s most promising young scientists – span almost every continent, with recruits from Okinawa and wider Japan as well as Asia, Europe, the Americas, and – for the first time – the tiny state of Lesotho in southern Africa.
Great scientists of tomorrow: OIST's 2019 intake of students
Dr Gruss said: “We are proud to have you. We also expect a lot from you. Influential technologies seem set to change what it means to be human. A rapidly changing world is also confronted by grand challenges: climate change, providing energy and clean water, coping with global population mobility and increasing urbanization. These are all complex and all require collaboration across sectors and expertise. Interdisciplinary basic research is the key to solving these challenges.”
Introducing new members of faculty, the President noted that in the past year alone, OIST had received more than 1,500 applications for 10 new faculty positions. This confirms the organization’s growing reputation as a destination for advanced science and innovation, he said.
OIST Student Council President Adrian David welcomes the new students with his speech
“We already have an array of research projects which can directly benefit Okinawa: from Okinawan art conservation, to fire ant surveillance, to the preservation of the coral reefs. Recently, a new prototype wave energy converter was installed just off the coast of Seragaki by Prof. Tsumoru Shintake’s team. This will help bring more sustainable energy to Okinawa. The goal is to promote technology transfer and innovation, to revitalize the local economy, and attract more high-tech industries, and well-paying jobs, to Okinawa.”
The Welcome to the New Academic Year Ceremony was an opportunity to share some key objectives stated in OIST’s forthcoming Strategic Plan 2020-2030, due for publication in full next month. It articulates ambitious goals – and how OIST can best achieve them – for the next decade. In two years’ time – just 10 years after coming into existence as a University – OIST expects to have 100 faculty conducting research and educating students. A decade later this number should reach 200, with a commensurate expansion in support and infrastructure. Already 20% of the OIST workforce is Okinawan – a number which is expected to rise as the University develops.
Dance group Ryukyu Performance Connection entertains the audience with a display of modern Eisa dance