Section members

  Name Role

Masashi Yoshimura “Yoshi”, Ph.D.

RS Leader, Main coordinator of the OKEON Churamori Project.

Yoshi: Upon graduating university, he became a middle school teacher in Rishiri Island, Hokkaido, where he taught environmental education. While out in the field, he discovered the world of ant research and decided to pursue a doctoral degree to become a male ant expert. After obtaining his Ph.D. degree, he carried out his post-doctoral research in Kyushu University and California Academy of Sciences, then came to OIST in 2014 as a Staff Scientist. Since 2015, he has been coordinating the OKEON Churamori Project, an Okinawa-wide network of universities, museums, schools and citizen scientists to monitor the environment of Okinawa. In 2019, a part of this project became independent as the Environmental Science Section (ESS), which he now leads. His expertise is in ant taxonomy, systematics and morphological evolution, as well as conservation biology.

Masako Ogasawara

RS Specialist,
 Assistant coordinator of the OKEON Churamori Project

Masako: In the summer of 2013, she was led by a researcher to look at an ant under the microscope. After the memorable encounter with the ant up close, she was drawn into the strange world of research as an Assistant. When the OKEON Churamori Project was established, she became an Assistant Coordinator where she brings her excellent communication skills to the full potential. She continues to develop the collaborative network in Okinawa for the OKEON Project.

Mayuko Suwabe, Ph.D.

RS Specialist,
 Administrative Fire Ants Projects,
Educational activities

Mayuko: After obtaining her Ph.D. degree from the University of Ryukyus, she jumped into the world of environmental education and honed her skills. Through her years of experience, she is able to transform jargon-filled research into digestible and amusing chunks of information for children, making her an exceptional Science Communicator. She is also a talented illustrator whose sketches are featured on the ESS goodies that are given out during outreach events, loved by both children and adults. Her expertise is in the ecology of alien ants.

Jake Lewis

RS Technician,
 Field Team leader, Collection manager

Jake: Having developed a passion for nature at a young age, he started off as a birdwatcher in middle school and later found an interest in insects in high school. As an undergraduate he worked as an insect curation assistant at the New Brunswick Museum where he was exposed to entomology as a science. During his undergraduate years he made several trips to Japan and developed an interest in Japan’s unique fauna. Jake’s graduate work and on-going research focuses on the taxonomy and molecular systematics of weevils. He is looking forward to delicious ramen after fieldwork.


Shinji Iriyama

Research Assistant

Shinji-san: A tinkerer both in the field and the lab, he is the designated Engineer and Troubleshooter of the team. He’ s also a foodie who will take you to the best diners to refuel after fieldwork.

Toshihiro Kinjo

Research Assistant

Toshi: Extremely diligent with indoor and outdoor tasks, and gifted with the ability to make better typhoon path predictions than the latest computer simulations! Currently an avid moss collector.

Yoko Kudaka

Research Assistant

Yoko: Always smiling in the field and shines when assisting team-hosted workshops.

Seiichiro Nakagawa

Research Assistant

Sei-chan: Keeps the team at a perfect balance between relaxed and motivated. Don’t let his calmness trick you though- he’s got the best comebacks! After work, he transforms into an artist.

Shoko Suzuki

Research Assistant

Shoko: In charge of a range of tasks, including taking images of ants, submitting research permit applications and going to the field. Enjoys foraging food from nature and cooking it.

Takumi Uchima

Research Assistant

Takumin: A young curator and data enterer who enjoys going out on insect collection trips on weekends on top of his fieldwork on weekdays. He especially has an undying love for diving beetles (Dytiscidae).