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. For information about the availability of PhD student placement in each unit, please refer here. 

To learn more about the Coordination Chemistry and Catalysis Unit (Julia Khusnutdinova) visit the unit website
Julia Khusnutdinova
PhD Chemistry, University of Maryland, College Park, 2009
B.Sc. Chemistry, Kazan State University, Russia (2003)

Our group is interested in designing of new transition metal complexes for application as catalysts in reactions relevant to renewable energy production and for developing “green”, environmentally friendly methods in organic synthesis. Three major directions will be pursued in the Coordination Chemistry and Catalysis Unit:

  1. We plan to develop new modular ligand platforms for stabilization of transition metal complexes capable of multi-electron redox transformation. The ultimate goal is to use these transition metal complexes as catalysts for the reactions relevant to renewable energy production (e.g. carbon dioxide reduction to liquid fuel) and small molecule activation.
  2. Our group is also interested in studying ligand-assisted aerobic oxidation and electrochemical reactivity of organometallic compounds and elucidation of the mechanisms of these reactions using spectroscopic methods.
  3. Another research project involves the design of new polymeric or oligomeric compounds responsive to redox changes or other stimuli.
To learn more about the Protein Engineering and Evolution (Paola Laurino) visit the unit website
Paola Laurino
Ph.D. Organic Chemistry (ETH Zurich, 2011)
M.Ph. Medicinal Chemistry (Leiden University, 2007)
Master Degree (Laurea) Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology (Milan University)

The protein engineering and evolution unit learns from the evolution of proteins how to design new ones. The unit is focused on generating novel proteins that can perform reactions not present in nature and will allow studying metabolic pathways.  Our main aims are to understand how proteins work within their metabolic context, and to create useful tools for biocatalysts.

To learn more about the Chemistry and Chemical Bioengineering Unit (Fujie Tanaka) visit the unit website
Fujie Tanaka
PhD, Kyoto University, Japan
BS, Gifu Pharmaceutical University

The Chemistry and Chemical Bioengineering Unit develops methods and strategies for the construction of organic molecules. The strategies that this unit investigates include asymmetric synthetic methods and organocatalytic methods. The molecules that this unit designs and creates include enzyme-like catalysts and functionalized small molecules. Studies undertaken by this unit contribute to the creation of molecules necessary to elucidate biological mechanisms and the control of biological systems.

To learn more about the Nucleic Acid Chemistry and Engineering Unit (Yohei Yokobayashi) visit the unit website
Yohei Yokobayashi
B.Eng. Department of Synthetic Chemistry, The University of Tokyo, 1994
M.Eng. Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, The University of Tokyo, 1996
Ph.D. Graduate Program in Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, 2001

Nucleic acids DNA and RNA are fundamental building blocks of life. These biomolecules display remarkable chemical functions such as information storage, catalysis, and molecular recognition. Our goal is to harness the versatile chemistry of nucleic acids to design and engineer functional nucleic acids (DNA, RNA, and their synthetic analogs) that operate in test tubes, devices, and living cells.

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.

To learn more about the Quantum Materials Science Unit (Yoshinori Okada) visit the unit website
Yoshinori Okada
Ph.D. Crystalline Materials Science (Nagoya University, JAPAN, 2009)
B.Sc. Applied Physics (Nagoya University, Japan, 2004)

Dr. Yoshinori Okada has obtained broad techniques and knowledge to develop Quantum Materials Science. He has been interested in quantum materials through his graduate study in Nagoya University, where he investigated mechanism of high-Tc superconductivity by growing high-quality single crystals and measuring their transport and anger-resolved photoemission spectra. After receiving Ph. D. from Nagoya University in 2009, he moved to Boston. At MIT and Boston College, as a postdoctoral researcher, he focused on the physics of strong spin-orbit coupled systems, which exhibit topological features. In this period, he learned state-of-the-art experimental approach using spectroscopic imaging scanning tunneling microscope. He has carried out extensive studies on 3D topological insulators and the newly discovered topological crystalline insulators. Also, he studied on the correlated 5d oxides, in which spin-orbit coupling and correlation effects are both important. He then moved to Tohoku University as an assistant professor to obtained advanced epitaxial thin film growth technique. This allowed him to design quantum materials, whose functionalities are inaccessible easily via bulk crystals. 

To learn more about the Quantum Transport and Electronic Structure Theory Unit (Fabian Pauly) visit the unit website
Fabian Pauly

Using methods of many-body physics and parameter-free electronic structure theory, the unit studies different properties of nanostructures and nanostructured materials ranging from charge transport to heat transport as well as optically excited states. Results may lead to smaller electric circuits on chips, more efficient thermal management and cooling or improved light harvesting.

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 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.