Kurato Mohri, Staff Scientist
I joined the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit in May 2020. I’m an experimental biologist in the field of developmental and evolutionary biology. My current research interest is the achievement of muscle tissues during the evolution of metazoan. I use some basal metazoan models to approach this question. In addition, I also study regeneration of multicellular bodies of social amoebae by molecular imaging. I’m really enjoying Okinawa, especially the beautiful sea and lovely Okinawan creatures.
Ryo Nakamura, Postdoctoral Scholar
I joined Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit in October 2018. My research interest is the relationship between the developmental process and the evolution. I am currently trying to understand how the central nervous system were established during evolution using basal metazoan models. In addition, I attempt to apply epigenetic tools to understand the molecular machineries in ancestral animals.
Hongdi Wang, Postdoctoral Scholar
I joined the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit (ENBU) in February 2021. I got my Ph.D. degree in 2020 at Hokkaido University in Japan. When I was a doctoral student, I mainly focus on the research of the genomic and molecular mechanisms of species-specific vocal learning behavior of songbirds. My research interests mainly on the genomic and molecular mechanisms of evolution and development. I will use bioinformatic and molecular tools to explore some interesting evo-devo questions during the days in ENBU. Okinawa is a beautiful place to live, you can enjoy fishing, swimming and many things here. OIST is modern and international which is a wonderful place to do science.
Ryotaro Nakamura, Research Unit Technician
I joined the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit in May 2017. As a research unit technician, my primary job is to help the researchers and students advance their research. Our research focus, the evolutionary origins of the nervous system, is a new but interesting field to me, and I’m excited about the future perspectives. I’m surrounded by unit specialists and people from other units/sections, which is ideal for being constantly up-to-date or to learn new stuff.
Chihiro Kawano, Research Unit Technician
I joined the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit in Dec, 2017. My job as a research unit technician is to assist the research projects that focus on mass spectrometry-based omics and informatics to study nervous system in basal metazoans.
Yayoi Hongo, Research Unit Technician
My background is Analytical Chemistry. I’ve been working on molecular/elemental characterization with MS(GCMS, LCMS, MALDI, Direct ionizations, ICPMS, etc.),based on ion reaction chemistry. In ENBU, various species, from tiny molecules to huge protein complexes will be targeted. OKINAWA life is full of surprises for me. I am enjoying it a lot.
Chihiro Arasaki, Research Unit Administrator
I joined Watanabe Unit in April, 2016 when Prof. Watanabe joined OIST. My task as a Research Unit Administrator is to provide administrative support for the unit members. Outside work, I enjoy baking breads and biscuits.
Osamu Horiguchi (DC1)
Minato Miyake (DC1)
I graduated from Tohoku University with a B.Sc. where I studied flatfish asymmetric development. I have long been interested in marine invertebrates, and as a Ph.D. student in the Unit, I currently study Ctenophore nervous system evolution and development. My favorite pastimes include exploring wildlife, reading, and of course, research.
I graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Nottingham, but switched my field and did an MSc in Marine Biology from Bangor University. In the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit I have the opportunity to combine my expertise from both fields to answers questions about the evolutionary origins of the animal lineage by studying Cnidarians.
Jeric Da-Anoy, University of the Philippines
October 2018–December 2018
JK joined ENBU in September 2018 as a research intern from the Philippines. He devotes his time at OIST understanding the role of select neuropeptides in neurodevelopment of Nematostella vectensis using gene knockdown techniques and molecular biology tools. His motivation to dedicate his research in neurodevelopment and early animal evolution was mainly influenced by his adviser, C Conaco. As a marine biotechnology student in the Philippines, his graduate research project aims to identify neuronal and circadian clock genes in corals. He also wants to gain insights on how these genes are regulated under thermal stress, using molecular biology and transcriptomic tools. In the future, he likes to continue his pursuit to understanding early animal evolution particularly the evolution of the nervous system in early extant animals.
Daniel Soto Carballo, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
May 2022–November 2022
My Linkedin profile is always open to know more!
In my free time I love reading, hanging with friends and new people and exploring nature’s wonders. Okinawa has so many gorgeous locations you never run out of places to enjoy!
Ayumi Yoshikawa, Tokyo Metropolitan University
I am a four-year undergraduate student at Tokyo Metropolitan University, where I am specified in developmental biology.
I have joined Watanabe Unit as a research internship student from April 2023 to learn techniques to progress my research related to eco-devo questions in the future. Although my participation in the research internship will be for 4 months, I am looking forward to experiencing a part of research of ctenophores which might gives a hint to understand the evolution of animal-specific traits.
Shinya Komoto, Staff Scientist
October 2016–March 2018
Cell biologist diving into the field of evolutionary neurobiology! My research strategy involved intensive microscope and molecular biology techniques. Currently, I tried to understand the origin of central nervous system, and how neuron network is established through the embryo development. or I'm simply enjoying to visualize all those beautiful world of neurons.
Currently: Research Support Specialist, Imaging Section, Office of the Dean of Research, OIST
Amol Dahal, Research Unit Technician
May 2016–November 2018
I completed my Master’s from Kochi University (Japan) and will defend my Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics there. I joined OIST in May, 2016 in the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit. I am involved in the culture of marine invertebrates such as Nematostella and Hydra. I will be assisting in their molecular and neurobiological research to understand the origin and evolution of nervous system.
Currently: Lecturer, Department of Biotechnology, Kathmandu University, Nepal
Erina Kawai, Research Unit Technician
August 2016–July 2019
I took my master’s degree in marine biology in the University of Ryukyus. I’m working on fieldwork and trying to establish Lab cultures of marine invertebrates. This aims to have new model animals useful for EvoDevo studies. I love dogs, sweets, scuba diving and Okinawa.
Currently: Research Unit Technician, Marine Climate Change Unit, OIST
Rio Zakou, Research Assistant
April 2018–March 2019
Mei Fang Lin, Postdoctoral Scholar
May 2017 – July 2020
Originally from Taiwan, I have been fascinated by the theory of evolution since I took the Biology course as an undergraduate student. During that time, I was introduced to the systematics of red algae and the world of coral reef. I then carried it for my MSc in Marine Biology in National Taiwan University with the study of coral evolution by applying molecular phylogeny. After MSc, I joined the Biodiversity Research Centre in Academia Sinica where I developed my interest of coral genomics. After obtaining working experience, I decided to pursuit a PhD degree and started PhD journey in James Cook University, Australia studying coral genomics and evolution under the supervision of Prof. David Miller. Using the transcriptomic data of corals’ close relatives, corallimorpharians (coral-like anemones), new insights into the major questions in cnidarian evolution, coral calcification and cnidarian-algal symbioses, were provided. Having a great interest in the basal animal evolution, I join Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology as a postdoctoral researcher working on a series of basal animal transcriptomes and genomes to understand the origin of neuron. Outside of work, I enjoy playing badminton, watching movies, taking photos, and visiting nice restaurants for good food.
Google scholar profile:https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=jNFTrt8AAAAJ&hl=en
Currently: Assistant Professor, National Sun Yat-sen University
Doctoral Degree Program in Marine Biotechnology
Hibiki Fukunaga, Research Assistant
October 2019 – March 2021
Akiko Tanimoto, Research Assistant
February 2019–February 2022
Born in Tokyo, and moved to Okinawa 25 years ago. I joined Watanabe Unit as a Research Assistant to provide culture service of the marine animals such as Nematostella.
I love cats and fishing!
Junko Higuchi, Research Assistant
June 2022–May 2022
My role as a Research Assistant is to take care of the culture of Nematostella and Jellyfish at Watanabe Unit. I am excited to work with these aquatic animals.
I graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences (Physiology) and an MSc in Genetics both from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. My thesis was to do with the molecular and genetic basis of clubfoot under the supervision of Prof. Martin Collinson and Dr. Neil Vergesson.
I joined OIST as a PhD student in 2016. I am interested in how animals evolve new morphological innovations. Now, with the collaboration and support of Prof. Noriyuki Satoh (OIST), I use the ascidian animal model Ciona to study ascidian cellulose synthesis ability and its effects on their physiology, development, and evolution. Before joining OIST, I was born and raised in Taiwan. I did my master study with Dr. Jr-Kai Yu in National Taiwan University and Academia Sinica, Taiwan, with my thesis topic on the evolution and expression of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor genes in amphioxus, a basal chordate animal. I enjoy the time in OIST working with knowledgeable supervisors and intelligent colleagues from all around the world.
Eisuke Hayakawa, Group Leader
My research focuses on the development and application of methods of analytical chemistry. In particular I integrate mass spectrometry and informatics to analyze biological compounds involved in nervous system (e.g. neurotransmitters, metabolites and synaptic proteins) to study the neurochemical aspect of the evolution of nervous system.
My Master's research in the Laboratory of Functional Morphochemistry of Neurology Research Center, RAMS (Moscow, Russia) was devoted to examining the morphological changes of rodent astrocytes following chemical injury. In the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit I continue studying glial cells and their evolution using basal metazoans, mainly Nematostella. This is also a perfect way of combining two passions of mine: glial biology and marine creatures. I love sea, dancing, fresh whole foods, exploring the Ryukyu Islands, and writing about them in the student-run magazine "Kuroshio".
Kanako Hirata, Research Unit Technician (PoC)
I joined Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit in December 2019.
My job is to assist with analysis of mass spectrometry-based metabolomics data and spectral library building.
Mika Ogata, Research Assistant (PoC)
I joined the Evolutionary Neurobiology Unit in May 2021.
My job is to assist the reserch projects that non-target metabolomics analysis using mass spectrometry.
Christine Guzman (DC1)
Christine hails from the Philippines. For her PhD project, she is interested in studying the early evolution of synaptic protein complexes. She is also interested in gene expression response in marine organisms to environmental stress.