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.

Tunggul Bhirawa

Tunggul is an Ocean Engineer and Experimentalist in Fluid Mechanics, focusing on research areas including Air-Sea Interaction (ASI), Ocean Wave Physics, and Wave Turbulence. He has extensive experience utilizing experimental techniques and camera-based imaging technologies, including Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and Laser Surface Detection methods, Stereoscopic Imaging, and 3D Surface Reconstruction. Tunggul is particularly interested in Ocean-Atmosphere Interaction, which is essential in the global climate and to improve the climate prediction model, especially during extreme conditions such as Typhoons/Tropical cyclones.

Graduate Students

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. (All about garden eels)

Rotation Students

Lily Walker

Lily is a current rotation student in the MBU with a background in general physics and an interest in oceanography. Through ocean numerical modeling and fieldwork, she will study the dynamics of rip currents for local Okinawan shores. This research can hopefully offer some insight into both material transport, for example for coral larvae, but also for safety around more dangerous areas of the Okinawan coast.

Research Interns

Melissa Tanaka

My background is in environmental engineering with a focus on environmental fluid mechanics. I have recently completed my masters and am here to pursue my interest in research while working with typhoon data. I am originally from Long Beach, CA and I love to run and I love the ocean!

Sophie Schoenherr

Sophie is a current student at the University of Aveiro, Portugal where she's completing a MSc. in Applied Marine Biology. She has a background in shallow coral reef research and restoration and is now curious to learn about their deeper counterparts, namely cold-water corals. During her time in the Mitarai Unit, she aims to combine the current - unfortunately scarce - knowledge on cold-water coral biology with biophysical modelling to gain a better understanding on the potential dispersal pathways and connectivity of these unique ecosystems.

Jakob Rahner

Jakob did his Master’s degree in Marine Environmental Sciences, focusing largely on numerical modeling approaches. Having previously worked on seed transport in ocean currents, he wants to extend his knowledge by looking at long-distance hydrochorous dispersal of mangrove seeds. Additionally, he will be working on modeling the dispersal of cold-water coral larvae at a regional scale.


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.

Part-Time Research Assistants 

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.

 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

  • Otis Brunner (Graduate Student), September 2018 – May 2023
  • Maki Thomas (Graduate Student & Junior Research Fellow), September 2015 – May 2023
  • 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

  • Nicole Yap (MarFishEco Sustainable Fisheries Consultants), February – May 2023
  • Michelia Wibowo (University of Southampton), Novemver 2022 – February 2023
  • Noam Vogt Vincent (University of Oxford), June – September 2022
  • Sawyer Suzuki (University of Oxford), August – September 2022, August – September 2023
  • 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

  • Maya Street 2022/2023 Term 2
  • 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