Faculty and Research

The professoriate at OIST numbers about 60 faculty members with strongly international backgrounds, each leading cutting edge research in a range of disciplines. OIST does not have traditional academic departments, but you can use the tabs or keyword search to find faculty members according to their discipline or research topics.

To learn more about the Collective Interactions Unit (Mahesh Bandi) visit the unit website
Mahesh Bandi
PhD Physics, University of Pittsburgh 2006.
MS Physics, University of Pittsburgh 2004.
MS Electrical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh 2002.
BE Computer Science & Engineering, University of Madras 1998.

The Collective Interactions Unit is an experimental group with broad interests in soft matter physics, applied mathematics, mechanics, and their application to biologically inspired problems. Unit researchers work in the general area that concerns macroscopic, non-relativistic matter and its interactions. Current interests include problems related to interfacial fluid dynamics, granular solids, and biomechanics of the human foot.

To learn more about the Quantum Systems Unit (Thomas Busch) visit the unit website
Thomas Busch
PhD (University of Innsbruck)

The Quantum Systems Unit investigates theoretical concepts of the quantum world. Drawing from ultra-cold atomic gases and other natural and synthetic quantum systems, their aim is to devise models that explain quantum phenomena—such as a particle being in two places at the same time—and develop methods to quantify, control and engineer them.

To learn more about the Fluid Mechanics Unit (Pinaki Chakraborty) visit the unit website
Pinaki Chakraborty
BEng, The National Institute of Technology, Surat
MS, PhD from The University of Illinois

The Fluid Mechanics Unit studies how substances flow, be it the turbulent churning of typhoons or oil streaming through a pipeline. The Unit meticulously analyzes motion through soap films and pipes to learn crucial details of how energy disperses in two and three dimensions. Modeling these phenomena can help predict motion, improve our response to adverse weather conditions, and management of oil-pipeline networks.

To learn more about the Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit (Keshav Dani) visit the unit website
Keshav Dani
M.A., Ph.D. in Physics. University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
B.S. with Honors in Mathematics. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Using intense, ultrafast laser pulses, the Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit explores the optical properties of matter. Its members study graphene and other two-dimensional materials for their potential in transparent, flexible electronics; research semiconductors for photocatalytic and solar energy applications; and investigate applications of ultrafast laser pulses to biology and medicine.

To learn more about the Electronic and Quantum Magnetism Unit (Yejun Feng) visit the unit website
Yejun Feng
Ph.D. Physics, The University of Washington 2003
M.S. Physics, The University of Washington 2002
M.A. Physics, The City College of New York 1999
B.S. Physics, Fudan University 1996

The Electronic and Quantum Magnetism Unit explores fundamental issues of correlations in electrons, covering interest of both condensed matter physics and materials science. This includes topics such as competition and evolution of charge and magnetic orders, emergent phenomena and fluctuation effects, and frustration and disorder in quantum magnets. Using temperature, pressure, and magnetic field as tuning methods and a wide range of probes both locally and at international user facilities, we explore macroscopic phenomena and their microscopic origins.

To learn more about the Mathematical Soft Matter Unit (Eliot Fried) visit the unit website
Eliot Fried
BA (Honors), University of California at Berkeley
MS, PhD, California Institute of Technology

The relatively new but rapidly expanding field of soft matter focuses on materials whose basic structural elements consist of many atomic or molecular subelements. These materials typically exhibit structure on length scales ranging from nanoscopic to mesoscopic and, as the name implies, are relatively easy to deform. Research in the Mathematical Soft Matter Unit focuses on fundamental and applied issues, combining techniques from statistical and continuum mechanics, differential geometry, asymptotic analysis, bifurcation theory, and large-scale scientific computing. Topics of ongoing interest include discoidal high-density lipoproteins, perforated lipid bilayers, suspensions of self-propelled agents like bacteria, and the contact-line dynamics of sessile drops undergoing evaporation and condensation.

To learn more about the Continuum Physics Unit (Gustavo Gioia) visit the unit website
Gustavo Gioia
Diploma in structural engineering, University of Buenos Aires
MSc in theoretical and applied mechanics, Northwestern University
PhD in solid mechanics, Brown University

Continuum Physics Unit members carry out theoretical and experimental research in the mechanics of continuous media, including cellular materials, granular materials, and complex fluids, with applications in geophysics, materials science, hydraulics, and structural engineering.

To learn more about the Quantum Dynamics Unit (Denis Konstantinov) visit the unit website
Denis Konstantinov
BSc, MSc, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

In the nanoscopic world, electrons can exist in many places at once—a feature that, if harnessed to encode data, could revolutionize information processing. The Quantum Dynamics Unit is exploring the behavior of complex quantum systems, using high magnetic fields and ultra-low temperatures to observe and control electrons in certain conditions, to find how to regulate them for applications in quantum computing.

To learn more about the Physics and Biology Unit (Jonathan Miller) visit the unit website
Jonathan Miller
BS, Yale University
PhD in Biology, The University of Cambridge (MRC LMB)
PhD in Physics, The California Institute of Technology

The Physics and Biology Unit develops physical science based tools aimed primarily at the study of biological systems. Major interests include genome evolution and population genomics, to obtain new insight into how genetic variation couples natural selection and evolution.

To learn more about the Quantum Gravity Unit (Yasha Neiman) visit the unit website
Yasha Neiman
Ph.D. in Physics, Tel Aviv University, 2013
B.Sc. in Physics, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, 2005
B.A. in Computer Science, Open University of Israel, 2003

The Quantum Gravity Unit is a theoretical group driven by an interest in the laws of nature. The group's work is at the interface of three pillars of modern fundamental physics: gravitation, particle physics and cosmology. Using new models and theoretical tools, the group aims to reconcile the conflicting lessons that Nature has taught us about the structure of reality. Current work involves higher-spin theory, de Sitter physics, holography and black hole thermodynamics.

To learn more about the Light-Matter Interactions Unit (Síle Nic Chormaic) visit the unit website
Síle Nic Chormaic
BSc (Honours), MSc, St. Patrick’s College, NUI, Ireland
PhD in Physics, The University of Paris XIII

Interactions between light and matter occur all around us, from the lenses in our eyes to photosynthesis. The Light-Matter Interactions Unit isolates and studies small numbers of particles as small as atoms using optical nanofibers as an interface tool between light from lasers and the sample under investigation. The ultimate goal is to better understand photons, atoms, cells, and proteins—the building blocks of the world. 

Simone Pigolotti
Ph.D. Statistical and Biological Physics (SISSA/ISAS, 2004)
Degree in Physics (University of Rome)

The Biological Complexity Unit studies how stochastic fluctuations affect the dynamics of biological systems. We are interested in phenomena ranging from accuracy of molecular reactions inside cells to population genetics of aquatic microorganisms transported by fluid flows. We aim at understanding the behavior of these systems by applying analytical techniques from non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and computational approaches.

To learn more about the Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit (Yabing Qi) visit the unit website
Yabing Qi
BSc, Nanjing University
MPhil, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
PhD, The University of California, Berkeley

The Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit is developing cost-efficient, large-area solar technology out of organic materials. These organic solar cells are lightweight, flexible, and can be printed roll-to-roll like newsprint to cover windows, walls, and many other surfaces. They also use state-of-the-art ultrahigh vacuum instruments and a clean-room device fabrication facility to investigate properties of individual materials and their interfaces to optimize the solar cell’s structure for better performance. 

To learn more about the Theory of Quantum Matter Unit (Nic Shannon) visit the unit website
Nic Shannon
BSc (Honours), The University of Birmingham
PhD, The University of Warwick

Quantum materials are governed by how their electrons interact. In metals, such as copper, electrons largely ignore one another, but in quantum materials they have a ‘social life’. The Theory of Quantum Matter Unit’s main goal is to uncover new laws of physics that explain interactions of electrons in groups.

To learn more about the Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit (Amy Shen) visit the unit website
Amy Shen
Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.S. Hunan University

The Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics unit focuses on using complex fluids and complex flows to create objects with morphology and structure tailored precisely for applications in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and energy. The unit employs lab-on-a-chip platforms with analytical capacity to study the physics of flow, the transport of mass, momentum, and energy, and reactive processes at nano- and micron length scales. Novel device designs have the potential to significantly enhance understanding of single-cell behavior, developmental biology, and neuroscience. These strategies can be used to address challenges in drug screening and the development of bio- and chemical-sensors for disease, security, and environmental monitoring.

To learn more about the Quantum Wave Microscopy Unit (Tsumoru Shintake) visit the unit website
Tsumoru Shintake
1980 BSc in Engineering (Kyushu University, Japan) "Development of EBIS ion source"
1983 PhD in Engineering (Kyushu University, Japan) "Development of Microwave Undulator"

The Quantum Wave Microscopy Unit’s newly assembled, low-energy electron microscope uses lensless technology to construct crisp holograms of DNA and viruses. It is hoped that this new technology will obviate the need for time-consuming crystallographic techniques, and that it will yield single-molecule images at sub-nanometer resolution. A very different project, denominated “Sea Horse”, aims to generate 1GW of electricity from ocean currents using 300 huge propellers tethered to the sea floor in the Kuroshio Current near Okinawa.

To learn more about the Nanoparticles by Design Unit (Mukhles Sowwan) visit the unit website
Mukhles Ibrahim Sowwan
PhD, Hebrew University

The Nanoparticles by Design Unit has developed an ultra-high vacuum system to study and custom-build nanoparticles. Atoms of up to three different materials can be sputtered from the source simultaneously to form nanoclusters, which pass through a mass filter that selects those in
a certain size range to be deposited on a solid surface or harvested for applications such as novel cancer therapies, drug delivery systems, infrared detectors, and sensors.

To learn more about the Biological Physics Theory Unit (Greg Stephens) visit the unit website
Greg Stephens
BSc, Ohio University
MSc, Syracuse University
PhD, The University of Maryland

While physicists have long searched for universal laws that explain the nature of matter and energy, until recently the complexity of biological systems proved daunting. The Biological Physics Theory Unit searches for simple, unifying principles in the brains and behavior of living systems. Working closely with experimentalists, Unit members combine quantitative biological measurements with theoretical ideas drawn from statistical physics, information theory, and dynamic systems.

To learn more about the Advanced Medical Instrumentation Unit (Sugawara Unit) visit the unit website
Hirotaka Sugawara
PhD, Physics, The University of Tokyo, 1966
MSc, Physics, The University of Tokyo, 1963
BSc, Physics, The University of Tokyo, 1961

Prof. Sugawara has held academic positions at Cornell, The University of California Berkeley, Tokyo University of Education, University of Tokyo, University of Chicago and University of Hawaii. He was Director General of the KEK Japanese National Laboratory for High Energy Physics and Executive Director of the Graduate University of Advanced Studies (Sokendai). He most recently served as the Director of the Washington D.C. office of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.

The Advanced Medical Instrumentation Unit was launched to perform various research activities related to BNCT (boron neutron capture therapy). In particular, the unit works on the design of an accelerator system which can produce a high-intensity neutron beam. It also studies new imaging technology with a particular emphasis on improving the special resolution. High resolution SPECT with hard X-ray and Compton camera based gamma ray imaging are being studied. Another area of research is the drug delivery system based on nanoparticles. This is required not only for increasing the efficiency of BNCT but will be useful also for other therapeutic purposes. Finally, the mechanism of the role of CSC (cancer stem cell) in the formation of a tumor and its metastasis is also being studied.

To learn more about the Optical Neuroimaging Unit (Bernd Kuhn) visit the unit website
Bernd Kuhn
Diploma, University of Ulm
Dr rer. nat., Technical University of Munich

The Optical Neuroimaging Unit develops novel techniques to investigate two fundamental questions in neurobiology: how behavior arises from cellular activity, and how the brain processes information. Kuhn, the Unit head, has built two-photon laser scanning microscopes that enable him to reconstruct 3D images of neurons with micron resolution and to observe neuronal activity, both in awake mice.

To learn more about the Membrane Cooperativity Unit (Akihiro Kusumi) visit the unit website
Akihiro Kusumi
B.Sc. (Biophysics) Department of Biophysics, Kyoto University, 1975
D.Sc. (Biophysics) Department of Biophysics, Kyoto University, 1980

The Membrane Cooperativity Unit tries to understand how cooperative molecular interactions in/on the plasma membrane enable the membrane to work. For this purpose, our unit is dedicated to (1) developing unique methodologies to observe single molecules at world-fastest frame rates and manipulate them at will in living cells, and (2) elucidating the mechanisms for the plasma membrane organization and function, with particular emphases on signal transduction and neuronal network formation, by extensively using single-molecule technologies.

To learn more about the Bioinspired Soft Matter Unit (Ye Zhang) visit the unit website
Ye Zhang
B.S. Nankai University
Ph.D. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Nature design materials as hierarchical architectures with complex composite structures spanning the nano to near-macro length scales to create unique combinations of properties that are often difficult to achieve with synthetic materials. The task of our research unit is to understand such amazing mechanisms and develop new man-made materials to mimic the structure, properties or performance of natural materials or living matters.