OIST is truly international and cross-disciplinary. Located in Okinawa, Japan, the official language is English, and over half of faculty and students come from outside Japan. OIST is a university with no departments, eliminating artificial barriers between people working in different fields, with students and faculty from all over the world. OIST is bringing some of the best minds in the world to Okinawa to transform the way science and education are done, with specialties including Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Ecology and Evolution, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Marine Sciences, Mathematics, Neuroscience, and Physics.
The challenges facing humankind today require unconventional solutions, and that means new approaches to science. OIST is breaking down traditional barriers between disciplines. There are no academic departments.
Instead of organizing units by department, OIST describes and groups units by their Research Specialties, encouraging faculty and students to freely cross and combine traditional disciplines.
For OIST, collaboration is key, so connectivity of the space is a fundamental principle in the design of the buildings. Centralized research support, open style laboratories, and mixing professor offices promote communication and encourage collaboration to create a more efficient and productive work environment. Professors with specialties as diverse as mathematics, ecology, engineering, and chemistry have offices right next to each other, rather than segregated in different buildings.
Collaboration, Access, and Synergy
Researchers routinely collaborate with labs across campus, Japan, and globally. OIST brings more than 1,000 scientists to Okinawa every year for workshops, conferences, and visiting scholar positions, further increasing the cross-pollinations of ideas.
As part of the BRIDGE Network of innovative STEM graduate universities, OIST offers researchers opportunities for collaboration and mutual exchange.
OIST collaborates strategically with academic and research universities and institutions domestically and internationally.
Thematic workshops and internal grants support networking among researchers. Strategic collaboration based on general agreements at the presidential level helps researchers in all aspects of research and education. OIST researchers and students meet new friends, develop new ideas, and can access new funding to do their best research, to lead the next generation of scientific researchers and to nurture the following generation of leading scientific researchers.
The Conferences and Workshops Program is an international undertaking that serves leading scientists from OIST, Japan and the rest of the world, providing essential opportunities for OIST faculty members to build and maintain international academic networks.
While OIST faculty members are encouraged to organize "OIST Workshops and Mini-Symposia" to strengthen OIST's academic branding, OIST also organizes academic events jointly with other institutes and universities around the world.
In addition to providing conference facilities, OIST also maintains an internal conferences and workshops team to support the annual Conferences and Workshops program.
Resources for Researchers
All full-time faculty members, regardless of seniority, enjoy high-trust funding, mentor PhD students, teach classes, and are eligible for OIST Workshop fiscal and logistic support.
High-trust funding enables faculty to focus on research and explore ambitious, long-term research topics, while bilingual experts provide support for writing domestic and international grant applications.
The OIST Institutional Repository promotes free and open access to university research and connects OIST to other Japanese universities.
Faculty also have high-quality administrative support. Faculty members are assisted by professional, bilingual Research Unit Administrators (RUA) who handle administrative and logistic tasks.
To enable faculty to try new approaches and combine traditional fields of research, Core Facilities provide expert, professional support for common equipment to enable faculty and students to try new approaches.
Training and Communication
The Center for Professional Development and Inclusive Excellence (Career Hub, or C-Hub) fosters researchers’ professional development through individual consultations and programs that support excellence in valuable skills such as mentorship, leadership, teaching, writing, collaboration, and communication.
OIST has professional staff to support science communication and promotion, including science writing, digital marketing, press and media relations, graphic design, animation, photography, and video production.
Women in Science
For OIST to be a true agent of change among research institutions, we must achieve greater gender balance and recruit more women. Around the world, fewer than 30% of researchers are women; in Japan, that number is below 20%.
OIST strives to increase the proportion of female faculty, achieve equal gender balance among PhD students, and create a supportive culture for women on campus.