2016 Speakers

Misuzu Asari

An expert in waste management, Professor Misuzu Asari models consumer behavior and hazardous waste flow after collection from homes. Using the Kyoto University campus as testing ground, she explores how to implement environmental management systems, education, and sustainable lifestyles within universities.

In addition to research, Professor Asari is involved in numerous public awareness campaigns; she founded the “Kyodai Gomi-bu (garbage club)” as a student at Kyoto University and hosted a Kyoto-wide festival about waste the same year. More recently, she organized public outreach exhibits at Takashimaya showcasing fun environmentally-friendly facts.

Takao Doi 

Professor  Takao Doi was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1985 for the Japanese manned space program. Doi flew as a mission specialist in 1997, during which he became the first Japanese astronaut to conduct a spacewalk.

He received a Ph.D in Astronomy from Rice University in 2004.

In 2008 he visited the International Space Station  to deliver the first module of the laboratory, Kibō, during which he became the first Japanese person to man a Japan-built module. He worked as the chief of Space Applications Section of United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs from September 2009, where he sought to make space more accessible to a wider population.

He began his professorship at Kyoto University in April 2016 and is pioneering a new academic field that delves into the meaning of space exploration from a theoretical, philosophical perspective.

Miho Ishii

Miho Ishii studies religious practices including spirit possession, magic and witchcraft. While at Hokkaido University, she went into the field of cultural anthropology for her love of fieldwork. As part of her PhD coursework at Kyoto University, she conducted extensive fieldwork in the cocoa-producing migrant societies of Southern Ghana. Since April 2010, she has held the position of associate professor at the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University. Her present research focuses on the inter-relation between būta (spirit) worship and developmental projects in Karnataka, South India.

Her major works include “Frontier of spirits: ethnography of ‘occult phenomena’ in migrant societies of Southern Ghana” and “Anthropology of Religion”.

Hiroaki Isobe

A jack-of-all-trades in astrophysics, Professor Hiroaki Isobe facilitates a wide variety of interdisciplinary projects involving space and the sun.

In addition to research on solar activity such as sun spots, prominence, and solar flares, he frequently hosts collaborative events involving art and traditional culture. This includes “space rakugo“, an event which discusses science and religion in Buddhist temples. More recently he is involved in research aiming to decipher the sun’s activity from ancient oriental documents and a citizen science project utilizing aurora photographs taken by amateurs.

Professor Isobe obtained his PhD from Kyoto University and have since held research posts at the University of Tokyo and Cambridge University.

Kenji Matsuura

Using Japanese termites, Professor Kenji Matsuura seeks to understand the social dynamics and evolutionary mechanisms of insects.

In a world first, he showed that the queen status in termites are inherited by parthenogenesis. In addition to this pioneering insight, he also discovered fungi that mimic termite eggs, pheromones that enable termites to recognize eggs, and bacteria-mediated mechanisms that foster “team spirit” among termites that live in the same nest.

Professor Matuura is also the chief organizer of the Kyoto University Museum’s special exhibit introducing the latest insights from entomology. The exhibit features a display with live termites, which showcases the different caste types and how they interact.

Masaharu Motokawa

Through fieldwork and specimen collection in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, and other southeast Asian countries. Professor Masaharu Motokawa seeks to reconstruct the history of mammal evolution in East Asia, which took place over several million years of species diversification.

Professor Motokawa obtained his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees at Kyoto University. Currently appointed professor of the Kyoto University museum, he manages the many specimens stored the museum’s archives. In the past he was invited to conduct research in the Natural History Museum of the United Kingdom and in Chulalongkorn University of Thailand. Professor Motokawa is also associate editor and director of the Mammal Society of Japan.

Mohamed Abdelhack

Mr. Mohamed Abdelhack is currently the student head of Vege Project in Kyoto University, helping spread vegetarian and other cultural influences to the school cafeteria to cater towards diverse needs. Their activities have previously been featured on the NHK.

Mr. Abdelhack is an Egyptian doctoral student in the graduate school of informatics in Kyoto university. With a keen interest in humanitarian, educational and environmental activism, he has worked in educational programs in Egypt, Russia, Turkey, and in Okinawa where he obtained his Master’s degree.