Overview and Applications

OIST Tunnel

The Theoretical Sciences 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 (EVSP) 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).

At a Glance

Visiting Programs Overview

  • TSVP 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.

  • TSVP Visiting Scholars (VS): Open to candidates pursuing independent research (at least senior postdoc level) working on a project in theoretical sciences, usually staying at OIST for 3 to 12 months. Poster

  • Domestic Visitors (DV): Visits will usually last 2 weeks to 3 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.

  • Experimental Visiting Scholars Program (EVSP): The EVSP emphasizes novel and innovative approaches in research by inviting senior faculty to spend their sabbatical time at OIST. While the TSVP is mostly focussed on theoretical researchers, candidates for the EVSP are usually experimental scientists. Each visitor has a host unit at OIST, in order to allow access to experimental lab areas.

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, but exceptions can be made for scientists with a proven potential to soon become independent researchers.
Note: Previously accepted candidates may apply for another visit.

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)
  • 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.
  • Office space
  • Access to OIST’s IT system, library, and research facilities
  • TP: Symposium/workshop expenses (where applicable)

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

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

Evaluation criteria

  1. Scientific quality
  2. Benefit to OIST, e.g. through interactions with and across OIST Units
  3. Interdisciplinary nature of OIST
  4. Considerations of diversity and ensuring a 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