ECBSU alumni

Current members

Masaru Sanari, Research Intern (Oct 2023 - Mar 2024)

MSc. student in Biology, Dept. of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Japan

I have been fascinated by microscopic observations and cultivations of microorganisms. For my undergraduate project, I was focusing on microorganisms inhabiting extreme environments.
During my internship, I would like to put emphasis on wet approaches from Winogradsky Column to high resolution microscopic analysis while keeping a good balance with dry analysis to fulfill the gap in the evolution of microorganisms.
Apart from my research, I like learning languages, playing piano, table tennis, marine activity, and simple work out.


Akito Shima, Research Intern (Oct 2023 - Mar 2024)

BSc. student in Biology, Dept. of Science, Kyushu University, Japan

I am interested in the minimal gene set capable of supporting the life system. The extremely small genome of endosymbionts due to host-symbiont interaction is intriguing, which I decided to study at Husnik Unit. For my internship, I am learning bioinformatics, especially comparative genomics and phylogenetic analysis, to analyze the symbiont of the insects.
Apart from the lab, I like baseball, football, basketball, and Manga.
The photo shows me standing on the top of Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest and most beautiful mountain!

Olha Sur, Research Intern (Apr 2023 - Mar 2024)

BSc. student of Biology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

I am excited about most aspects of the evolution and biology of microbial life. I am fascinated by protists and enjoy learning everything about them, especially their diversity and phylogenetic relationships. I have a lot of fun microscoping environmental samples. Endosymbiosis and eukaryogenesis are topics that interest me a lot, which is why I started off my studies by investigating the evolution of meiotic genes. For my internship in the Husnik Unit, I intend to study tiny stramenopiles, as well as to culture and identify symbionts of various large benthic foraminifera. Outside of the lab, I am interested in science fiction and enjoy delving into a wide range of art forms, from doodling to musical theater.

Anastasia Borodina, Ph.D. student (Rotation Student Jan-May 2024)

BSc. and MSc. in Biology, Voronezh State University, Russia

My path in biology began with research in biophysics. As an undergraduate student, I studied the patterns of structural organization of glycosidases: internal cavities, tunnels, and pores in the composition of monomers and dimers of exo- and endoinulinases. As a master's candidate, I was inspired by research in the field of protistology, and my master's thesis was devoted to the study of morphology, ecology, and molecular phylogeny of telonemids. I am interested in reconstructing the phylogenetic tree and the early evolution of eukaryotes through genomic and morphological studies of protists, as well as in studying their biodiversity and ecology. Apart from my research, I am passionate about learning to play musical instruments, hiking, painting watercolors, and learning Spanish and Arabic.


Arno Hagenbeek, Ph.D. Student (Rotation Student May-Aug 2022)

MSc. in Bioinformatics, Wageningen University, Netherlands
BSc. & MSc. in Biology, Wageningen University, Netherlands


I am interested in microbial biology, particularly microbe-microbe and microbe-host interactions. I am especially intrigued by symbiotic microbiomes as they usually involve a complex network of interactions between the microbes as well as the hosting organism. Previously, I have analyzed microbiomes in a wide variety of organisms, ranging from Arabidopsis rhizosphere to the human intestine. For my Ph.D. thesis in the Husnik unit, I aim to map the microbiomes of microscopic marine invertebrates which remain highly understudied. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, hiking, and martial arts.

Google Scholar

Yong Heng Phua, Ph.D. Student (Rotation Student May-Aug 2022)

BSc. in Biology, Hokkaido University, Japan

I have been working on different species of benthic dinoflagellates (Coolia, Ostreopsis, and Amphidinium spp.) during my undergraduate course. I have also worked for five months as a research intern in the Husnik Unit and started exploring the role of bacterial symbionts in diverse aspects of dinoflagellate biology (e.g. toxin production or photosynthesis). During my rotation, I plan to explore symbiotic interactions between marine dinoflagellates from Okinawa and their endosymbionts. When I am not working, I am usually cooking or hiking in the mountains.

Google Scholar

Javier Tejeda Mora, PhD Student

BSc. in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, UNAM, Mexico


I am interestred in the underlaying paterns that hide within the sea of information that recent techniques have allowed access to. I did my bachelor thesis project at CICESE in Mexico where I was introduced to metabolomics. I analyzed data from metabolites of a wide range of microorganisms. During my PhD in the Husnik Unit, my aim is to perform metabolomics analyses that will help to elucidate diverse host-symbiont interactions. Outside of work I enjoy sports (mainly those that involve a raquet) and videogames

Google Scholar

Vera Emelianenko, Ph.D. student (Rotation Student Jan - Apr 2023)

BSc. in Biology, Moscow State University, Russia


I am broadly interested in marine invertebrates and their relationships with symbionts. During my rotation, I will compare Symbiodiniaceae distribution across different hosts (corals, foraminifera, possibly clams) and environments (seawater and sediment). Besides that, I am extremely curious to know what kinds of animals you can find in different environments around Okinawa, so I’ll be also helping with Arno’s project exploring marine and mangrove meiofauna. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, snorkeling, and diving (still haven’t done it much in Okinawa!), also trying to learn photography and social dancing (such as salsa and west coast swing).

Google Scholar

Pradeep Palanichamy, PhD Student

MSc. in Applied Microbiology, Vellore Institute of Technology, India
B.Tech in Biotechnology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India

I have a long-term scientific interest and fascination for insect-microbe symbiosis because it can provide novel avenues for the control of agricultural pest insects through targeted manipulation of the symbionts or the insect-symbiont associations. In particular, I am interested in studying the functional role of bacterial endosymbionts and other microbes in insects adaptation, nutrition, defense, metabolism, detoxification, immune functions and pest control. Insect symbionts can be also interesting sources of biotechnological applications. In the Husnik Unit, my research focuses on the interplay between scale insects and their symbiotic microbes using microscopy, molecular and omics techniques. Apart from work, I enjoy cricket, football, table tennis and playing video games.

Maria Eduarda Alves dos Santos, JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD in Marine Science, University of the Ryukyus, Japan
MSc. in Coastal and Oceanic Systems, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil
BSc. in Oceanography, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

I am interested in understanding the processes that shape the origin and distribution of marine species. Currently, my work focuses on the two most common protists associated with corals: dinoflagellates of the family Symbiodiniaceae and the apicomplexan lineage of corallicolids. My research combines fieldwork and different “omics” approaches, including genomics, transcriptomics, and spatial metabolomics, to shed light on the diversity and functions of these symbioses. I have worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Ryukyus and as a visiting fellow at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands. I am passionate about Brazilian music, good beer, and summertime (even better when combined).

Google Scholar

Courtney M. Dunphy, JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, Northeastern University, USA
BSc. in Environmental Sciences, University of Texas, USA

I am broadly interested in coral reef microbial ecology and how bacteria and other microorganisms interact with and regulate coral reef ecosystems. Specifically, how coral-associated microbial communities across coral species provide resistance and resilience to both anthropogenic and environmental stressors from the perspective of genetics, spatial patterns, and functional diversity. In particular, my research at OIST relates to uncovering the underlying mechanisms structuring coral microbiomes and elucidating their functional contributions to coral host health and climate resilience. Outside of the lab, you’ll find me hanging out with my dog, Chopper, hiking, biking, and/or exploring any and all food and beverage scenes.

Google Scholar

Jinyeong Choi, NRF Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD & MSc. in Entomology, Seoul National University, South Korea
BSc. in Applied Biology, Kangwon National University, South Korea

I am interested in the evolution of plant-feeding insects and their microbial symbionts. Specifically, my research focuses on understanding the role of symbiont replacements and host niche expansion on diversification of scale insects. Previously, I have studied the taxonomy and phylogeny of scale insects, especially mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) and soft scales (Coccidae). In my research, I try to combine comparative genomics, microscopy, insect systematics, ecology, and phylogenomics to approach my scientific questions. To have even more fun, I enjoy outdoors activities such as swimming, skin diving, fly fishing, as well as collecting scale insects!

Google Scholar

Dewi Langlet, Visiting Researcher (Ifremer, France)

PhD & MSc. in Environmental Sciences, Angers University, France

I am interested in the role of protists in benthic biogeochemical cycles. My research is especially focused on the effects of anthropogenic disturbances such as anoxia, heatwaves and microplastic pollution on foraminifera and their symbionts. I am studying their ecology, metabolism, behavior as well as their impact on sediment geochemistry to better understand their role in benthic ecosystem functioning. I previously worked as a JSPS fellow at JAMSTEC and as a postdoctoral researcher at Lille University. Besides science, I enjoy rugby, photography, and playing board games.

Google Scholar

Yumiko Masukagami, Research Technician

PhD in Veterinary Microbiology, University of Melbourne, Australia
BSc. in Veterinary Science, University of Miyazaki, Japan

I am interested in host-symbiont interactions and reductive genome evolution in bacteria. My research focuses on how the simplest self-replicating bacteria such as Mycoplasma spp. persist in the host and how bacteria become symbiotic in the host cells. I previously worked as a postdoc at the National Institute of Animal Health in Tsukuba and in the Membranology Unit at OIST. Apart from science, I enjoy my time with family and our cats, badminton, and exploring Okinawa.

Google Scholar

Sachie Matsuoka, Research Unit Administrator


I've been working as an RUA ever since I moved to Okinawa in 2013. I'm grateful for the chance to be a part of ECBSU, and hope to contribute to unit operation in some way. I'm interested in all living creatures (particularly birds), folk crafts, farming, and marine activities.