ECBSU alumni

Current members

Yufu Unten, Visiting Researcher Suntory (Apr-Jun 2024)

PhD in a division of Applied Life Science, Dept. of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Japan
BSc. in a division of Biological Resources Management, Dept. of Environmental Science, University of Shiga prefecture, Japan

I am interested in communication between mitochondria and other organelles, particularly in mammalian cells.
I usually use confocal microscopy as my main method of observation, but at OIST I aim to analyse organelle interactions using electron microscopy.
From the analysis of organelle communication, I would like to clarify the interests of host cells in mitochondrial symbiosis.
In my free time, I often watch a soccer game, train and cook.


Vasyl Vaskivskyi, PhD Student (Rotation Student Jan-Apr 2024)

BSc. in Veterinary Medicine, National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine
MSc. in Molecular Biology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

I am interested in the evolution of plastids. Plastid is an ancient organelle that originated thanks to the endosymbiosis with photosynthetic cyanobacteria. Some modern organisms also happen to have similar symbioses. In my project, I want to use a protist that bears a photosynthetic cyanobacterial symbiont and compare it to a heterotrophic relative from the same lineage. My goal is to expose differences in gene expression that allow this symbiosis to arise and thrive. Before coming to OIST, I worked as an Imaging Bioinformatician at Wellcome Sanger Institute and HuBMAP Consortium in the UK where I focused on the development of processing pipelines for imaging spatial omics data such as CODEX, CellDive, MIBI, and IMS. In my free time, I enjoy getting lost in new places, hiking, computer graphics, and a bit of math.



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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

Jinyeong Choi, Postdoctoral Scholar

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!

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Yi-Kai Fang, Research Technician

MSc & PhD in Microbiology, Chang Gung University, Taiwan
BSc. in Medical Technology, Chang Gung University, Taiwan

I studied in medical parasitology, mostly Trichomonas vaginalis, and mitochondrial-related organelle (MRO) hydrogenosome in my PhD in Taiwan. My previously work in Charles University, Czech Republic, leads me into a more fascinating world, protistology. By using proteomics and immunofluorescence assay, the complexity and beauty of these small creatures were revealed. I am now gazing around in this interesting world and seeing where it will take me to.

I am a cat person and wishing to discover more feline friends in Okinawa. If you have your own cats, please share their cuteness with me. I also like baseball and play slow-pitch softball. If you like them as well, we can go together for exercise or watch games sometime.

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.

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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.