Principal Investigator

Satoshi Mitarai

The primary objective of Prof. Mitarai’s research is to understand the role of ocean turbulence in regulating biological processes and their consequences for marine ecosystems. These studies include investigations of larval dispersal via oceanic eddies and the role of dispersal in structuring marine populations, understanding biological responses of marine species to turbulent flows and their integrated effects on biogeochemical cycling, and atmosphere-ocean interactions in tropical cyclones and their consequences in dynamics of marine ecosystems. Prof. Mitarai aims to contribute to a new interdisciplinary field in ocean sciences.

Postdoctoral Scholars 

Heng Wu

Heng specializes in experimental hydrodynamics with a focus in turbulent boundary layer flows over a rough or porous bed and their impact on sediment transport. She is currently working on flow-body interaction in a flume system under unidirectional or oscillatory flows mainly by using Particle Image Velocimetry.

Graduate Students

Maki Thomas

Maki’s research interests are focused on coastal marine conservation, especially estuary areas. Her current objective is to better understand how species maintain and expand its habitat. The current project focuses on investigating temporal and spatial dispersal patterns and driving factors of mangrove species, Rhizophora stylosa. Using population genetic methods, oceanic numerical modeling as well as in-situ observed drifter methods will provide comprehensive understanding of dispersal patterns. Another goal during her PhD program is to do science out-reach projects with local communities through ECO club.

Otis Brunner

Otis' background in marine spatial ecology brought him to the Marine Biophysics Unit where he is studying the diversity found at hydrothermal vents and how theoretical ecology and oceanographic models of connectivity can be combined to answer key questions in metacommunity dynamics and Biogeography.

Kota Ishikawa

Kota’s research interest is originally in animal behavior. In the interdisciplinary environment of our unit, Kota studies how marine animals respond to flow conditions. Current project focuses on investigating effects of flow speed and turbulent fluctuation on planktivorous reef fish including unique garden eels. He is running website that inform interesting fact about garden eels.

 Research Interns

Nicole Yap 

Nicole’s research interests are focused on adaptive management and conservation. Her interdisciplinary background spans data science, remote sensing, ecology, oceanography, sustainable development and environmental policy. Having previously used Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) to predict whale shark (Rhincodon typus) spatial distributions under climate scenarios, Nicole joined MBU to learn different modelling methods and to explore the world of possibilities for their application. Her current research project aims to investigate spatial and temporal distributions of zooplankton in response to the changing environment using ocean circulation models. 

Rotation Students

Maya Street

Using her background is in biochemistry, Maya aims to study the structure and evolution of various pathogens. For her rotation she will be studying a class of Radiolaria called Acantharea. Though Acantharea are not pathogens, she is interested in understanding the effects of currents and turbulence on the distribution of these microorganisms.


Akinori Murata

Technicians support the MBU’s research activities by providing technical assistance, including field support, maintenance of lab/field equipment, and management of past data/samples and products.

Kazumi Inoha

Technicians support the MBU’s research activities by providing technical assistance, including field support, maintenance of lab/field equipment, and management of past data/samples and products.

Kimberlie Ward

Kimberlie has worked on several different model organisms (i.e., hermit crab, sponges, foraminifera) looking at behaviour, evolution, development, and distribution patterns. She has experience in different techniques e.g., light-microscopy, DNA extractions, and probe development. She is highly trained in, and particularly enjoys marine fieldwork on boats or along the shore. She will be helping the MBU maintain their wet lab and assist members during their use.

Research Unit Administrator

Tomoko Yoshino

Tomoko handles procurement (research equipment, consumables, outsourcing), travel and meeting arrangements (students, postdocs, professors, visitors), and record keeping (budget, equipment, training, health checkups, publications). She is also serving as a contact point (recruitment, fieldwork, etc.).

Former Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Angela Ares (Postdoctoral Scholar), August 2017 - October 2022
  • Yosuke Yamada (Postdoctoral Scholar), September 2019 - March 2022
  • Yuichi Nakajima (Postdoctoral Scholar & Staff Scientist), August 2013 - March 2021
  • Marine Le Gal (Postdoctoral Scholar), September 2017 - August 2020
  • Kirk Sato (Postdoctoral Scholar), September 2017 – June 2019
  • Mary Grossmann, (Postdoctoral Scholar), October 2013 – Novemeber 2016
  • Atsushi Fujimura (Postdoctoral Scholar), July 2015 – September 2016
  • Masako Nakamura (Postdoctoral Scholar), March 2010 – March 2015
  • Daisuke Hasegawa (Postdoctoral Scholar), October 2011 – March 2014

Former Graduate Students

  • Po-Shun Chuang (Graduate Student & Junior Research Fellow), September 2016 – June 2022
  • Margaret Mars Brisbin (Graduate Student & Junior Research Fellow), September 2015 – November 2020
  • Patricia Wepfer (Graduate Student), January 2014 – November 2018

Former Research Interns

  • Noam Vogt Vincent (University of Oxford), June – September 2022
  • Sawyer Suzuki (University of Oxford), August – September 2022
  • Kimika Takeyasu (Kobe University), October – December 2021
  • Noam Vogt Vincent (University of Oxford), July – September 2019
  • Asa Conover (University of Southern California), January – June 2019
  • Rita Seoane, September – December 2018
  • Juan Martin Diaz, July – February 2019
  • Teodora Forascu (University of Plymouth), June – August 2017
  • Ryo Dobashi (Hokkaido University), March 2017
  • Otis Brunner (University of Plymouth), October 2016 – February 2017
  • Sachika Odani (Kobe University), August – September 2016
  • Putri Reno Jingga (Diponegoro University), April – July 2016
  • Yuki Kamidaira (Kobe University), August – September 2013
  • MiHye Seo (University of Tokyo), October – December 2012
  • MiHye Seo (University of Tokyo), July – August 2013
  • Fiona Francis (Dalhousie University), May – August 2012
  • Flora Vincent (AgroParisTech), July – December 2011
  • Emile Trimoreau (Agrocampus Ouest), September 2010 – February 2011

Former Rotation Students

  • Georgii Karelin 2022/2023 Term 1
  • Nanako Okabe 2022/2023 Term 1
  • Pradeep Palanichamy, 2020/2021 Term 3
  • Billy Moore, 2019/2020 Term 3
  • Kota Ishikawa, 2019/2020 Term 1
  • Otis Brunner, 2017/2018 Term 1
  • Andreas Thomasen, 2016/2017 Term 3
  • Po-Shun Chuang, 2015/2016 Term 3
  • Larisa Sheloukhova, 2015/2016 Term 3
  • Robert Campbell, 2015/2016 Term 2
  • Christina Ripken, 2015/2016 Term 1
  • Margaret Mars Brisbin, 2014/2015 Term 2
  • Maki Kohata Thomas, 2014/2015 Term 1
  • Patricia Himeka Wepfer, 2013/2014 Term 2
  • William Powell, 2012/2013 Term 1
  • Mark Daly, 2012/2013 Term 3