Overview and Applications

OIST Tunnel

OIST's Visiting Program (TSVP) makes regular open calls for Visiting Scholars (since 2021) and Thematic Programs (since 2022). The Domestic Visitors program was created in recognition of the constraints faced by scientists working at Japanese institutes, who often cannot travel for extended periods, but are in a position to make repeated visits to Okinawa (since 2023). The Experimental Visiting Scholars Program is intended for senior experimental researchers on sabbatical and was established in 2021.

Calls will be announced on this site, the OIST Webpage, and in Academic Job listings, including AJO, JREC-IN, and Math Jobs. Note that the abbreviation TSVP is often used to refer to all OIST's Visiting Programs, not only the programs focused on theoretical projects.

This podcast by DJ Nick Luscombe, OIST podcaster in residence, from September 2023 introduces the Visiting Programs, their visitors, and why they "just don't know any better sabbatical program in the world" (Shinichi Nakagawa) as well as OIST's "big diversity of world-class researchers" (Malgorzata Lagisz). In the third podcast episode listeners can experience a day in the life of visiting researchers on the OIST campus: meet the people who are running the program and hear from visitors about their research (recorded in February 2024).

At a Glance

Visiting Programs Overview

  • Thematic Programs (TP): Hosted by a group of two or more researchers (coordinators) who stay at OIST for 2 weeks to 3 months. Additional participants can be invited during the TP’s duration, 4-8 of whom are expected to be present at any one time. Where it fits the goals and timeframe of the program, a symposium linked to the program can be hosted at OIST. Also check the second episode of the TSVP podcast which focuses on the Thematic Programs.

  • Visiting Scholars (VS): Open to candidates pursuing independent research (at least senior postdoc level) from all fields, usually staying at OIST for 3 to 12 months.

  • Experimental Visiting Scholar (EVS): The EVSP emphasizes novel and innovative approaches in research by inviting senior faculty to spend their sabbatical time at OIST. Each visitor has a host unit at OIST, in order to allow access to experimental lab areas.

  • Domestic Visitors (DV): Visits will usually last 2 weeks to 6 months, and can be split into several shorter trips. The visitor is usually expected to organize their own travel to Okinawa, while accommodation and office space at OIST is provided free of charge. The Domestic Program is intended for researchers working in Japan at the time of their proposed visit. All projects in sciences related to OIST are welcome.

All Visiting Scholars, domestic visitors, coordinators, and program participants are expected to actively contribute to the research environment at OIST and its research output.

Eligibility: Applicants should be independent researchers with a PhD.

Expenses covered by OIST for Visiting Scholars and Thematic Program participants

  • A round-trip airfare between the home institution and OIST
  • On-campus housing
  • Daily allowance (OIST per diem)
  • Office space
  • Logistical and administrative support from TSVP staff
  • Access to OIST’s computing resources, library, and research facilities

In exceptional situations, where a Visiting Scholar or a Thematic Program coordinator does not receive any salary from grants or their institution at the time of their visit to OIST, successful candidates may be able to apply for support with salary, where this is necessary to facilitate the visit, and they can provide evidence of their need.

Application documents

  • CV including a list of publications (in the case of TP: of all coordinators)
  • VS/DV: Brief description of research to date, and proposed research during the visit to OIST, including the research units the applicant is interested in interacting with
  • DV: (short) statements of support from two OIST Principal Investigators
  • TP: Proposal containing the theme of the program, its intellectual background, and the opportunity for progress in this area.
  • TP: A list of researchers who would be willing, in principle, to participate in the program, if funded. While the scope of the Thematic Program should be theoretical, a diverse base of participants is encouraged, which may include experimental scientists.
  • TP (where applicable): A title and abstract for a linked symposium of up to 60 participants

Thematic Programs Pre-Proposal
Visiting Scholars Application
Domestic Visitors Application
Experimental Visiting Scholars Application

Evaluation criteria

  1. Scientific quality and expected impact of the proposed research
  2. Benefit to OIST, e.g. through interactions with and across OIST Units
  3. Interdisciplinarity, i.e. contribution to dialogue between different research fields
  4. Considerations of diversity and spread of academic career stages
  5. Planned outreach and teaching activity, e.g. general-audience lectures, seminars, (mini) courses, career talks, activities for children/at schools