The OIST Podcast

About the OIST Podcast

Welcome to the OIST Podcast, bringing you the latest in science and tech from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

Each episode dives into the work of a different academic, bringing them out of the lab to talk about how their research is changing the world.

Guests include distinguished scientists from top institutions across the globe, as well as researchers making cutting-edge discoveries here in Okinawa.

Interviews are intended to provide short, accessible introductions to contemporary scientific topics, and how different research spaces are impacting society.

How to subscribe

Listen, subscribe, and leave a review now using your favorite podcast provider:

Latest Podcast Episodes


Unravelling enzymes with Prof. Paola Laurino

July 11th, 2022

This episode, Lucy speaks to Prof. Paola Laurino about her research looking at the structure, function, and evolution of enzymes, a group of proteins that facilitates vital chemical reactions for living organisms.




Connectonomics #6 - Dr. Mog Stapleton on the enactive approach, empirical science, and the role of ritual in eduction and transformation

Jun 04, 2022

In episode #6 of the Connectomics podcast, Mark speaks with philosopher of embodied cognitive science, Dr. Mog Stapleton. Mog is presently a visiting researcher at OIST, and is working on understanding the relationship between cognition and the gut-brain axis. In this episode, they talked about the role of aesthetics in the production of knowledge, the relationship between enaction and the empirical mind sciences, affectivity in cognition, enacting eduction and the value of ritual for transformation.

Produced by Shane Byrne in association with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. Cover art provided by Cian Brennan.



Connectonomics #5 - Roope Kaaronen

Jun 04, 2022

Mark speaks with sustainability researcher Roope Kaaronen.
Roope is a postdoc at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
In this episode, they talked about Roope's fortuitous introduction to ecological psychology and its value to his present work, his present work on strategic design interventions for large scale behaviour change/cultural evolution, the challenges and opportunities at the intersection between individual and collective change, nudging, and more. 

Produced by Shane Byrne in association with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.



Connectonomics #4 - Marek McGann

May 05, 2022

Mark speaks with theoretical cognitive scientist Marek McGann. Marek is a lecturer in the psychology department in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland.
In this episode they talk about Marek existing at the intersection of enaction and ecological psychology, the concept of behaviour settings and his understanding of agency as a multiscale affair, emergentism as a framing for embodied cognitive science, and the craft of research and education.

Produced by Shane Byrne in association with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.



Connectonomics #3 - Laura Mojica

October 20, 2021

In episode #3 of the Connectomics podcast, Mark speaks with philosopher Laura Mojica. At the time of recording Laura was also working in the Embodied Cognitive Science Unit at OIST. Laura works on the notion of normativity from an enactive standpoint, though she brings her experience working in analytic philosophy to bear on the topic. Laura is also very concerned with how enaction intersects with more cultural concerns and is interested in thinking about how enactive cognitive science can illuminate discussions about race, gender, intersectionality and so on.

Produced by Shane Byrne in association with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.



Connectonomics #2 - Dr. Fred Cummins on embodiment as a frame for the sciences

October 20, 2021

Mark speaks with Dr. Fred Cummin, head of the Cognitive Science program at University College Dublin. Fred is a linguist and the originator of the field of study that is joint speech: where two or more people say the same thing at the same time, such as within religious rituals, at sporting events, or at political protests. Fred is also an incredibly well studied individual in a range of disciplines and has a profoundly philosophical, idiosyncratic and insightful take on embodiment as a frame within the sciences.

Produced by Shane Byrne in association with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.



Connectonomics #1 - Dr. Tom Froese on embodied cognitive science and its implications

January 24, 2021

Mark speaks with Dr. Tom Froese, head of the Embodied Cognitive Science Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). 

The conversation touches on the central themes of embodied cognitive science and the enactive framework in particular, the methods of this approach, the mission of the unit at OIST, and some of the implications of developing or adopting such an understanding. 

Produced by Shane Byrne in association with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.



Photos by Keishu Asada, composite by Teresa Iglesias.

Cephalopod behavior with Teresa Iglesias

October 20, 2021

In this episode Dr. Teresa Iglesias, team leader for cephalopod support in OIST’s Animal Resources Section, talks about her career working with cephalopods, that is octopus, cuttlefish, and squid, and what they can tell us about animal behavior and two-stage sleep.


Connectomics: An introduction

October 18, 2021

The Connectomics podcast, a spinoff from the OIST podcast, explores the intersection between embodied cognitive science, philosophy, culture, technology and design. In this intro episode, host, Mark James, research fellow in OIST's Embodied Cognitive Science Unit, asks the question 'Where is my mind?' and introduces some ideas that will provide some surprising answers.

When robots become researchers with Prof. Hiroaki Kitano

August 5, 2021

Will robots become researchers? On this episode, Prof. Hiroaki Kitano talks about his vision for utilizing AI to move beyond human limitations in the lab and to revolutionize scientific discovery.


Evolution and Pokémon GO with Dr. Dan Warren

July 2, 2021

In this episode of the OIST podcast, Dr. Dan Warren talks about his many research projects, or ‘hobbies’, that use quantitative methods to answer questions about the natural world.


Women in STEM

May 28th, 2021

Podcast host, Lucy Dickie, speaks to four female researchers about the challenges that come with being a woman working in STEM, their own personal experiences, and what they would like to see change.


Symbiosis and evolution with Prof. Filip Husnik

May 13th, 2021

In this episode, Prof. Filip Husnik, who leads the Evolution, Cell Biology, and Symbiosis Unit, talks about his research on symbiosis. Tune in to hear about coral reefs, insects, the deep sea, and Okinawa’s star sand.


Prof. Sam Reiter talks about cuttlefish, octopus, and the emerging field of neuroethology.

Cephalopods and neuroethology with Prof. Sam Reiter

March 19th, 2021

This episode, Lucy Dickie speaks to Prof. Sam Reiter about cephalopods, the emerging field of neuroethology, and how we can learn more about the brain and intelligence.


Lucy Dickie speaks to Dr. Chris Petoukhoff

Scientific outreach and the OIST Science Festival

Feberuary 26, 2021

This episode is all about scientific outreach. Science Communicator Lucy Dickie speaks to a community relations staff member and two scientists about outreach and what it was like running the annual OIST science festival during the time of COVID-19. 


Climate change in the Pacific with Professor Tim Ravasi

December 24, 2020

It’s part two of our clownfish podcast! Professor Tim Ravasi uses clownfish to determine how a warmer, more acidic ocean might impact fish communities. Science Communicator Lucy Dickie caught up with him to find out more. 

Gyorgy Kiss

Clownfish and the evolution of development with Professor Vincent Laudet

December 16, 2020

This episode is all about clownfish! Science Communicator Lucy Dickie speaks to Professor Vincent Laudet who leads OIST’s Marine Eco-Evo-Devo Unit and uses the well-known orange-and-white fish as his model species. 


Margaret Mars Brisbin

Plankton research and marine conservation with Margaret Mars Brisbin

September 9, 2020

Margaret Mars Brisbin is a recent OIST graduate whose PhD focused on Acantharians – tiny, marine organisms. Science communication fellow, Lucy Dickie, spoke to Maggi about this research, marine conservation more broadly, and why it’s important for marine scientists to inspire others to care about the ocean. For more information, read her recently published paper or the accompanying blog post.


Prof. Mary Collins

OIST’s response to COVID-19 with Professor Mary Collins

July 13, 2020
In this episode, Lucy Dickie speaks to OIST Provost Professor Mary Collins about COVID-19. They talk about the virus but also OIST’s response to the outbreak in Okinawa, and the many projects that have been started here to help contain the spread within the community.

Prof. Greg Stephens

The Physics of Behavior with Greg Stephens

June 18, 2020
This episode Lucy Dickie speaks to OIST adjunct researcher Professor Greg Stephens about quantifying behavior. Greg looks at systems across the biological world, from tiny wiggling worms and rowdy zebrafish to crowds of people.

Marine Science at OIST

May 07, 2020
In this episode of the OIST podcast, we talk with Michael Izumiyama and Billy Moore. Both are first year marine science students and have just returned from a two-week research expedition to New Caledonia. We talked about their research, their favorite dive spots and when they first became interested in the ocean.

Mr. James Higa

Radical Collaboration with James Higa

March 12, 2020
This episode we're talking with James Higa, Okinawan raised luminary of Silicon Valley. We talk Apple, philanthropy, and the future of tech in Okinawa and beyond.

A friendship of a decade: Dr. Tamar Gutnick pets her favorite tortoise, George, a 100-year-old Aldabra tortoise housed in Vienna Zoo.

Dr. Michael Kuba

Animal Behavior with Tamar Gutnick

February 21, 2020
This episode, we talk with OIST Researcher Dr. Tamar Gutnick about working with animals, choosy tortoises, petting stingrays and the mysterious lives of wibbly-wobbly cephalopods.