Research Internship

Download: OIST Research Internship Program Information Flyer

In addition to the OIST Doctoral Program, seminars, and workshops, the OIST Graduate School offers education and research opportunities through a system of undergraduate and graduate placements as Research Interns. These short-term placements as a Research Intern give a select few talented students the opportunity to gain experience in a particular laboratory or to learn a specific technique. They work under the direction of a Professor at OIST and contribute to the research activities of OIST.

Places for Research Interns are awarded on a competitive basis, with the application period months in advance.  



Those eligible to apply include students enrolled at graduate or undergraduate programs in universities, colleges, junior colleges, and vocational schools in Japan or overseas, or recent graduates of such institutions. Bachelor year 3 and 4 and master year 1 & 2 students are particularly encouraged to apply.  Currently enrolled students must have approval from their home institution.  If you are currently a student, please confirm with your institution.  OIST interns must agree to and follow the OIST agreement.  OIST agreement takes precedent over any other university agreement. 

The Graduate University aims to train researchers who will play important roles in the international scientific community at leading scientific institutions in the public and private sectors. Accordingly, the program will make it a principle to recruit candidates with the potential and motivation to become leaders in scientific research on the international stage.  Academically applicants should be at least among the top 20% of students in their program.

We seek interns who are highly motivated by the excitement and potential of the cutting-edge research that is possible at OIST, who have the curiosity and academic ability needed to excel in their chosen areas of study, and who have the capacity for independent research and original thinking. Successful applicants will also require proficiency in oral and written communication skills in English for advanced study in science, and the ability to interact effectively with people from a wide range of backgrounds.


The tenure of Research Intern placements is between 2 and 6 months, typically at least 10 to 12 weeks. Tenure will not normally be extended. Interns may not take extended leave during their time at OIST, and are expected to work full time on their project.  Internships may begin and end at any time during the year, but application deadlines depend on the desired starting date of the internship (see below for details).



OIST provides living allowance, commuting support where necessary, and accommodation either on campus or nearby. Successful applicants will receive a Living Allowance of 2,400 JPY per day (weekends & holidays excluded) while at OIST.  

Travel Expenses

OIST will pay for one direct roundtrip travel for Research Interns between the home university or institution and the research unit or other facility where the internship will take place (usually Okinawa). The travel dates must be as close as possible to the term of the placement.  Travel for successful applicants is arranged by the OIST Graduate School. 

Other Support

The Student Support Section of the Graduate School will provide support for Research Interns at OIST with matters such as housing, visa acquisition, insurance procedures, and local registration. OIST regrets that support is not available for dependents, family members, and persons other than the student. 

Application Procedure

Research Intern places are awarded on a competitive basis. Deadlines for application are listed in the table below. Selection is highly competitive, and depends on suitability of the intended research, a student's academic background, and available funding and space. Professors accepting students under these programs will review the student’s qualifications, research capabilities, and academic training in a comprehensive manner. Information is available below regarding research units that can provide research intern positions in any year, and the type of projects offered.  Please keep in mind that listed numbers indicate maximum availability, and only a small number of the total open positions are filled in each round.  Applications from currently enrolled students must be supported by a recommendation letter from the Dean, Head of Department, or supervising professor of the program they are enrolled in.

The applicant is notified of the receipt of an application within an hour of submission. [As some of these notifications are automatically generated, please check your bulk or junk mail folders if you do not receive an expected notification to your inbox.] Successful applicants will be notified of acceptance once a decision has been made. OIST Graduate School will send results by email to successful applicants, typically within 3 months after the submission deadline.  For successful applicants, confirmation of internship participation must be made months in advance as ample time must be allowed for the issue of a visa and other necessary Japanese government documentation.

Required Application Materials

We suggest you first download this HANDY WORKSHEET to guide your preparation of the application, as you must enter all details and documents (as PDF files) in the application form at once  to submit an application.  Please complete preparations of all required materials, then fill out and submit to apply for the program: 

1) Curriculum Vitae Sheet - OIST CV SHEET

2) Personal Statement - STATEMENT SHEET

3) Academic Transcript - Upload a scan of your current academic transcript in PDF format. Unofficial partial transcripts are accepted for those who have not yet graduated.  Applicants should be among the top 25% of students.

4) Recommendation Letter - A recommendation is required for all applicants.  Applications from currently enrolled students must be supported by a recommendation letter from the Dean, Head of Department, or supervising professor of the program they are enrolled in.  Please consider that the request for a recommendation letter will not be sent until your application is submitted, so keep this in mind as you plan your application timeline. The application system will ask him/ her directly, using the email contact details that you provide.  Depending on account settings, our automatically generated email may be filtered to junk or bulk mail, so in case of a delay, please notify him/ her  to check beyond the inbox to insure timely processing of your recommendation letter.  Please arrange for the consent of that person before submitting their details in the form.  Be sure to also confirm the e-mail address before entering it in the web-formApplicants will be automatically notified by the application system when a letter of recommendation is received. 

5) ID Photo - Upload a recent photo, showing your face from the front in standard passport orientation (image must be in JPG format, and less than 5 MB).

Once you have obtained all the documents above, please attach and apply to the program through this APPLICATION FORM. [Be sure to use only alphabet and numbers in all file names].

Application Deadline

All application documents, including the letter of recommendation, must be sent by the deadline listed below for your intake dates.  Application periods correspond to time ranges in which your internship starts. (The deadline for your application depends on the day you plan to start your internship.  For example, if you plan to start May 1, your "Desired Starting Date" is in the range of Apr 1- Sep 30, so the deadline is Oct. 15).  

Actual internship periods may include parts of two or more separate intake periods (for example, you could request an internship that lasts from Jan 10- May 10).

Desired Starting Date Range
(the internship may extend beyond this period; your START date can be any time in the stated date range)

Oct 2019- Mar 2020

April 2020 - Sept. 2020

 Application Period Mar. 15 - Apr. 15 Sept. 15 -Oct. 15
Approximate Date of Result Announcement July January



If you need any more information or assistance with your application, please contact us at:   Do keep in mind that as we receive thousands of applications we are typically unable to honor special requests for extraordinary assistance, or make changes to submitted applications.  


Applicants who intend to import biological or hazardous material for their research are urged to insure that such import is in compliance with all regulations of their home country, any country of transit, and of Japan, and to complete all necessary paperwork for importation well ahead of time.

Detailed regulations pertaining to matters of payment, intellectual property rights, attendance, health and safety, and other matters have been drawn up and will be made available to successful applicants.  As interns are invited and hosted by OIST, the OIST agreement is to be followed (not agreements drafted by other institutions).

Faculty Availability and Projects

Units are not always able to accept interns due to varying availability of research space, supervision, etc.

Professor Unit Name

Maximum Availability
of Interns per quarter

Research Interests and Project Information

For more information on Research Activities, see

Gordon Arbuthnott

Brain Mechanism for Behavior

2 positions maximum

Projects available in behavioural neuroscience or in neuroanatomy

Mahesh Bandi

Collective Interactions 

no positions until 2020


 Thomas Bourguignon Evolutionary Genomics  1 position maximum See Unit Website for details.
Thomas Busch Quantum Systems

2 positions  maximum

Projects of theoretical nature in the area of ultra cold atoms, quantum information and quantum engineering. Students should have a background in physics and during their time with us will get an overview of the current state of the area, and do analytical or numerical work on a project related to a currently ongoing research project, depending on their interest.

Pinaki Chakraborty

Fluid Mechanics (Unit Video)

1 position maximum

Projects in turbulent flows in many applications.

Keshav Dani Ultrafast Spectroscopy

2 positions maximum

Many applications of ultrafast spectroscopy and femtosecond lasers, including graphene research.
Erik De Schutter Computational Neuroscience 1 position maximum

Computational neuroscience, particularly modelling of cerebellar circuits and signalling.

Kenji Doya

Neural Computation (Unit Video)

1 position  maximum

Projects in computational neuroscience and machine learning

Evan Economo

Biodiversity and Biocomplexity  (Unit Video)

2 positions  maximum

Projects  are related to evolution, ecology, biodiversity:  population genetics, morphological evolution, biogeography, 3D imaging and modeling, community ecology of ants.

Yejun Feng Electronic and Quantum Magnetism

1 position  maximum

Raman and pump-probe optical probes of quantum magnets under high pressure tuning.
Eliot Fried Mathematics, Mechanics, and Materials 2 positions  maximum

Theory, simulation, and simple table-top experiments physical and biological processes with interesting geometrical or topological features, including  Growth and coalescence of condensed droplets, Formation of ridges and cracks on tree bark, Healing of punctured soap films, and Water driven erosion of stone

Gustavo Gioia Continuum Physics 1 position  maximum Projects in solid mechanics in many applications
Igor Goryanin Biological Systems Unit 2 positions maximum

See unit website for details.

Yejun Feng Electronic and Quantum Magnetism 1 position maximum Raman and pump-probe optical probes of quantum magnets under high pressure tuning
Izumi Fukunaga Sensory and Behavioral Neuroscience 1 position maximum  
Shinobu Hikami Mathematical and Theoretical Physics 2 positions  maximum  
Hiroki Ishikawa Immune Signalling 1 position  maximum  
Julia Khusnutdinova Coordination Chemistry and Catalysis 2 positions  maximum

Stimuli-responsive polymers containing dynamic transition metal complexes; Homogeneous hydrogenation and dehydrogenation using earth-abundant metals (Fe, Mn); dynamic metal complexes and small molecule activation, as well as many other projects related to the use of transition metal complexes in catalysis, bond activation and stimuli-responsive polymers. The work involves organic and organometallic synthesis. Check more details at

Keiko Kono Membranology Unit 2 positions maximum

See unit website for details.

Denis Konstantinov Quantum Dynamics

2 positions  maximum

  1. Photo-transport in 2D electron systems,
  2. Electron transport in confined geometrie
  3. Non-linear NMR in coupled nuclear-electron spin systems,
  4. Electron spin ensembles in diamond for QIP technologies
Akihiro Kusumi Membrane Cooperativity 1 position maximum For details see unit website.
Bernd Kuhn Optical Neuroimaging 1 position maximum  
Paola Laurino Protein Engineering and Evolution  2 positions  maximum Different projects on protein and metabolites evolution, e.g. protein engineering for biocatalysis or prebiotic chemistry. Requires some experience in organic chemistry or molecular biology or biochemistry.
Nicholas Luscombe Genomics and Regulatory Systems Unit 2 positions maximum

See unit website for details.

Ichiro Maruyama

Information Processing Biology (Unit Video)

1 position  maximum

Projects in associative learning and memory in the nematode C. elegans.

Ichiro Masai Developmental Neurobiology 2 positions maximum Eye development in the zebrafish as a model system of neural development.
Jonathan Miller Physics and Biology Unit 2 positions maximum

Drylab: Fundamentals and Applications of Machine Learning: Randomness, Complexity, and Compression.

Wetlab: Perceptual and Cognitive Basis of Cephalopod Camouflage; Cephalopod Social Signalling; Cephalopod Sleep Behavior.

Strong quantitative background required for drylab: physicists and computer scientists preferred. Medium to long stays preferred (more than 3 months). Diligence and meticulousness required for wetlab.

Sasha Mikheyev

Ecology and Evolution 2 positions maximum See unit website for details
Satoshi Mitarai Marine Biophysics No positions in 2019 Marine biophysics, especially of the East China Sea and Western Pacific, with emphasis on currents and their effects on coral reef ecology.
Yasha Neiman Quantum Gravity  2 positions maximum See unit website for details of the group’s research.
Síle Nic Chormaic Light-Matter Interactions No positions in 2019 Experimental work (with some simulations) in cold atoms, laser cooling, atomic spectroscopy, optical nanofibre mode propagation, optical trapping of submicron particles, nonlinear optics in whispering gallery resonators.   The work is usually mainly experimental and preference given to students who can commit to longer internships (more than 3 months). 
Yoshinori Okada Quantum Materials Science 2 positions maximum
Fabian Pauly Quantum Transport and Electronic Structure  2 positions maximum  Nanoscale charge and heat transport, nanoscale thermoelectricity, electronic structure theory, excited state dynamics
Simone Pigolotti Biological Complexity  2 positions  maximum Our main research activity is in theoretical and computational modeling of biophysical systems, ranging from stochastic molecular kinetics to population dynamics. Projects in non-equilibrium statistical physics and stochastic thermodynamics are also available. Candidates with background in these areas and interested in medium to long stays (i.e. more than three months) will be given preference.
Yabing Qi Energy Materials and Surface Sciences 2 positions  maximum
  1. Research projects on energy storage materials and devices (e.g. Li ion batteries).
  2. Research projects on energy harvesting materials and devices (e.g. solar cells).
Nori Satoh Marine Genomics 1 position  maximum  
Hidetoshi Saze Plant Epigenetics 1 position maximum  
Nic Shannon Theory of Quantum Matter no positions until Sept. 2019  
Amy Shen

Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics (Unit Video)

2 positions  maximum

Projects in the general area of microfluidics and rheology (instabilities, mixing, separations), with many biotechnology applications. See for details of ongoing research. 

Tsumoru Shintake Quantum Wave Microscopy 1 position  maximum  
Ulf Skoglund Structural Cellular Biology 1 position maximum  
Mukhles Sowwan

Nanoparticles by Design (Unit Video)

no positions until Sept. 2019

Greg Stephens Biological Physics Theory 2 positions maximum See unit website for details.
Tomoyuki Takahashi

Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function 

1 position maximum  
Fujie Tanaka Chemistry and Chemical Bioengineering 1 position maximum  
Jun Tani Cognitive Neurorobotics 1 position maximum Projects related to cognitive neurorobotics.  Longer periods preferred.
Reiko Toriumi Gravity, Quantum Geometry and Field Theory Unit 1 position maximum  
Gail Tripp Human Developmental Neurobiology 1 position maximum  
Anastasiia Tsvietkova Topology and Geometry of Manifolds Unit 1 position  Projects in topology and computational topology, geometry and knot theory. Mathematics or computer science background/education/major is required.
Hiroshi Watanabe Evolutionary Neurobiology 1 position maximum

Projects in evolutionary developmental biology of basal metazoan models: developmental mechanisms of neurons and neural structures, genetic and physiological features of ancestral neurons, evolutionary conserved protein complexes.

Jeff Wickens Neurobiology Research  1 position  maximum  
Matthias Wolf Molecular Cryo-Electron Microscopy 1 position maximum


Tadashi Yamamoto Cell Signalling 1 position maximum  Projects in regulation of gene expression at the mRNA level, signaling in neuronal cells and cancer cells, and regulation of obesity using mouse models
Mitsuhiro Yanagida G0 Cell Unit 1 position maximum  
Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama Neuronal Mechanisms for the Critical Period no positions  
Yohei Yokobayashi

Nucleic Acid Chemistry and Engineering

2 positions  maximum
  1. Experimental project on functional nucleic acids (e.g. design riboswitches to control gene expression in living cells, high-throughput analysis of ribozymes). Requires some experience in molecular biology or biochemistry experiments.
  2. Computational analysis of high-throughput sequence data on functional nucleic acids. Requires basic knowledge of biochemistry and programming skills to handle large sequencing datasets.
Ye Zhang Bioinspired Soft Matter 2 positions maximum Tuning nano- or micro-structures through molecular manipulation
Design and synthesis of active matter


Is it possible to do research in my area of interst at OIST?

The table above lists information about research units and their projects available for interns.  Additionally, you can learn about more of the research going on at OIST here.  Please have a look and see if there is anything suitable to your interests.  As we continue to grow new areas of focus will be added, but main fields represented at OIST are in the areas of science and technology.

I made a mistake in my application.  Could you please make a change for me?

Since we receive thousands of applications we are not able to handle individual special requests.  You may resubmit your application (start over) and we will disregard the original one.  Please be sure to notify your recommender of the correct application to which he/ she should respond.  Please be careful not to make any mistakes.

There is a problem uploading my documents/ I am having technical problems with the application.

To minimize the chance of technical problems, please be sure to have all of the correct documents (as PDF files), your photo (as a JPEG file) and all text answers prepared in advance, and complete the application in one brief session.

If your internet connection is not strong, it would be best to minimize the number of tabs open in your browser window(s) while completing the application. 

I can’t submit my application before the deadline.  Could the deadline be extended? Could I submit it late?

As we have thousands of applicants to our program, we are not able to take the time to individually handle special requests.  We would certainly welcome your application in future application rounds if you are unable to make the current deadline. 

I don't know how to enter my name in the form as the concept is different in my culture.

If you don't know which are your family name/last name and given name/first name, that's OK. Some countries don't have that concept.

So please enter "," comma to the family name field and put all your name in the given name field.

Can I have the recommendation letter sent late?

The recommendation letter needs to be received by the day after the submission deadline, so there is a little leeway, but it is better if it can be submitted as soon as possible.  Please plan your application submission accordingly.

I don’t have an official transcript since I have not graduated yet.  Can I submit a different document?

For students who have not yet graduated, we are able to accept an unofficial transcript or other official university document showing your courses and grades. 

Must the recommendation letter be from my current supervisor?

We accept recommendation letters from any supervisor/ professor who is familiar with your work and your character.  It is not required that the recommendation be from your current supervisor, but it is in your best interest to request a recommendation from someone who is able to comment on your abilities and potential relevant to research for your proposed internship. 

Is it possible to change the dates of my internship if I am accepted?

Minor changes to timing of internships is to be expected, and does not present a problem.  For accepted intern candidates, final steps include confirming dates with both the accepting faculty member and the intern.  Major changes to internship dates are strongly discouraged and can lead to the cancellation of an internship offer.  Please consider timing in advance and apply during the appropriate round for your dates.

I am having problems with submitting the application, and it is showing that there is an error.

A common reason for submission issues is the format of the entered e-mail address.  Following are the most common causes of e-mail errors:

  1. Space in front or end of the email
  2. Invisible 4 byte unicode character inserted in the email address. This often happens when you copy and paste email address from other document files. Please clear the column and re-type the email address using the keyboard
  3. Please also check your email address field too. You need to have both email addresses(yourself/referee) in correct format to avoid the error message.

Could you please confirm that my recommendation letter was received?

It is the responsibility of applicants to check the status of recommendation letters. 

Can I change the email address for the letter of recommendation? / Can I request a different person?

If you need to change the contact information for a recommendation letter, the only way is to resubmit your application with the corrected details.  Duplicate applications will be disregarded.