About Program – JP Students

Nakatani RIES Fellowship for Japanese Students – About Program

The Nakatani Research & International Experiences (RIES) Fellowship for Japanese students is a six week research internship program in the U.S. for Japanese undergraduate students majoring in science & engineering (S&E). The program will enable students to gain real world experience with S&E research, provide an introduction to U.S. higher education and provide opportunities for cultural engagement and collaboration with U.S. students. The program will serve as a catalyst for Japanese students interested in S&E study and research and engagement with the U.S. through international research collaborations.

The objectives of the Nakatani RIES Program for Japanese Fellows are to:

  • Cultivate an interest in science and engineering research and research collaborations between the U.S. and Japan;
  • Nurture the next generation of science and engineering students in Japan;
  • Contribute to the development of a generation of internationally savvy Japanese students who have a specific interest in and knowledge of the U.S.; and
  • Educate students in culture, language, and technology, in order that they may be more effective when addressing global scientific problems.

The six-week program will be held from early August – September and will expose young scientists and engineers to cutting-edge research in a diverse range of science and engineering fields. Japanese participants will be placed into a Rice University research lab where they will spend five weeks working on a research project under the advisement of the U.S. professor and their assigned U.S. graduate student mentor.  The program will include:

Joint Weekend Trip with U.S. Fellows
In-Person  (One Weekend, Late May) 

Japanese Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in a joint, weekend trip with the Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellows conducting research in Japan this summer.  This joint trip will be held in late May and more information on this opportunity will be provided to Japanese Fellows in April.

Pre-Departure Workshop
In-Person  (One Weekend, Early July) 

Nakatani RIES Japanese Fellows will participate in an in-person pre-departure orientation to be held in Japan in early July to discuss steps they need to take to prepare for the departure to the U.S. Topics may include:

  • Introduction to the Nakatani Foundation & Nakatnai RIES Fellowship
  • Introduction to Research in the U.S.
  • Pre-departure Orientation for Health/Safety/Packing
  • Role and Importance of PhD For Japanese Students Working in Industry
  • Other Related Topics
  • Some joint sessions/activities with the Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellows who will be participating in their Mid-Program Meeting at the same time as this workshop

Orientation Program at Rice University
Two Days, Mid-August

Students will travel from Japan to Rice University in Houston, TX in mid-August. The first two days at Rice will include orientation activities such as:

  • Office of International Students and Scholars Orientation & J-1 Visa Overview
  • Issuance of Rice Campus ID & Meal Stipend
  • Rice University Campus Tour
  • Lab Safety Training
  • Working With Your Rice University Research Lab
  • Intercultural Communication in the U.S.
  • Health/Safety Orientation & Tour of Nearby Grocery Store
  • Welcome Reception/Meetings with Host Professors at Rice University

Research Internship in Science & Engineering
Five weeks, mid-August to mid-September

Participants will be placed into a Rice University lab under the advisement of a U.S. host professor and all students will be assigned a U.S. graduate student as a research mentor. Projects will be arranged by Prof. Kono in consultation with the host lab professor and mentors and research projects/hosts may vary each year. The Rice University host labs are selected for their willingness to mentor a young undergraduate student, for contributions to cutting-edge science & engineering research in the U.S., and a desire to increase the international diversity and intercultural competencies of their group members by providing them with an opportunity to work with Japanese undergraduates.

The goals of the research internship are to:

  • Provide students with hands-on experience with cutting-edge science & engineering research;
  • Enhance students technical and research skill sets;
  • Enable students to collaborate in an international research effort;
  • Enhance students inter-cultural communication & English language skills;
  • Encourage students to pursue future graduate study and research.

The language of the research labs is English and all Japanese participants will be required to pass an English language Skype interview with the Center for Written, Oral and Visual Communication at Rice University or provide proof of minimum required TOEFL or IELTS scores in order to participate in the program. See English Language for more information.

Students will work in their host labs at Rice University Monday – Friday and typically work 7 – 8 hours per day. Exact working hours will vary by lab, the availability of the student’s graduate student mentor, and the needs of their research project.  Host labs will give students release time from the lab for all required program seminars and events.

During the research internship period there will also be some weekly seminars and events scheduled for Japanese Fellows that may include:

  • English Communication Skills Seminars with the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication
    • Strategies for Vocabulary Acquisition
    • English Idioms Commonly Used in Academia
    • Academic Style Writing in English
  • Presentation Skills Seminars with the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership
    • Poster Design & Development
    • Poster Presentation
    • Practice Poster Presentation Coaching
  • Other seminar topics (speakers and topics may vary by year)
    • Graduate Study in the U.S. with Japanese graduate students at Rice University
    • Career Development & Planning for International Students
    • The Japanese-American Experience in Research & Industry by various Rice University and Houston-based speakers or companies.
    • Introduction to Houston & It’s Diversity
    • Engineering Ethics
    • Other Related Topics
  • Cultural Outings/Activities & Engagement with Rice University Students (may vary each year)
    • Participation in Japanese Language Table Discussion Sessions with Rice students currently studying Japanese
    • Visit to Space Center Houston (NASA)
    • Attending an American Football Game
    • Visiting Nearby Museums such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science
    • Other Outings and Activities As Scheduled
  • Student Selected Seminars, Activities, and Events at Rice during Free Time
  • Sight-Seeing In and Around Houston

Research Poster Presentation at Rice 
1 day, mid-September

The capstone experience of Nakatani RIES Japanese Fellow Program will be the presentation of a final research poster on their summer project at a Rice University poster session on the final day of the program at Rice.

Final Week in the U.S.
One Week, 3rd Week in September

During their final week in the U.S, Japanese Fellows will visit the East Coast where they will visit universities, government agencies, and related organizations to learn more about the intersection of scientific research, academia, and career opportunities in the U.S.

Final week locations/visits/speakers will vary each year and may include, but are not limited to the following. Detailed final week schedule will be provided to the Japanese Fellows in August.

  • Visit to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania (2 – 3 days)
    • Seminar on Women in Science
    • Seminars on Career Development & Planning
    • Panel Discussion with Faculty
    • Engagement with Lehigh University Students
    • Cultural Outings to Historical American Sites in Philadelphia and/or Amish Country
  • Possible Washington, DC Site Visits (2 – 3 days)
    • Howard University Campus Visit & Engagement with Howard Students
    • Site Visit to Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Washington, DC
    • Site Visit to National Science Foundation Office of International Science & Engineering
    • Site Visit to the Department of Energy
    • Site Visit to American Association for the Advancement of Science
    • Tour of National Mall & Key Monuments
    • 1 Afternoon for Free Sight-Seeing Time

At the end of this week, students will fly directly back to Japan from the East Coast. Upon arrival in Japan, they will return directly to their hometowns.

Nakatani RIES Closing Workshop for Japanese Fellows
1 day in Kobe, Last Saturday in September

The Nakatani Foundation will organize a closing workshop in Kobe, Japan for all Japanese Fellows. Workshop may include:

  • Student Oral Presentations to Nakatani Foundation on Experience in the U.S.
  • Overview of Opportunities for Alumni
  • Company Visit to Sysmex

Follow-on Project
To be completed in the semester following participation in Nakatani RIES 

All participants in the Nakatani RIES Fellowship will be required to carry out a follow-on project at their home university or in their local/home community that encourages other students to pursue science & engineering study and research and/or international research and study opportunities. These follow-on projects should highlight the Nakatani RIES Fellowship and be designed to share key aspects of your international and research experiences with the next generation of students and researchers in your field.

Follow-on projects are self-designed by each participant and a project proposal will be submitted as part of your final weekly report. Students will submit their Follow-on Project proposal during the final week of the program. We encourage creativity in your outreach approach!

Some ideas may include, but are not limited to the following.  For information on what past fellows have done, see our Alumni Updates page.

  • Presentations on Nakatani RIES Fellowship to student organizations, professional society chapters, academic departments, etc. at your home university;
  • Hosting a table or information session on the Nakatani RIES Fellowship at your home university study abroad office, study abroad fair, research abroad fair, or other related campus event;
  • Submitting an article on your Nakatani RIES Fellowship to your home university newspaper, academic department newsletter or website, or other university office newsletter or website;
  • Presenting your Nakatani RIES research project poster at other relevant conferences or events in your field (with the prior approval of Prof. Kono & your Research Host Professor)
  • Giving a presentation on the Nakatani RIES Fellowship and your international & research experience to local K-12 schools, particularly at the middle-school or high-school level, to encourage the next generation of students to pursue science & engineering study and research;
  • Other projects ideas also will be considered.

Academic Credit
The Nakatani RIES Fellowship is a credit-bearing program and all participants will be enrolled as visiting students through the Rice University. Information on application and enrollment as a visiting student at Rice will be provided to selected participants in the summer.

Japanese Fellows will received 3 credits of engineering research projects (ELEC 492) with Prof. Junichiro Kono serving as the instructor. Upon successful completion of the program a letter grade will be issued for this course and students can then request a Rice University transcript through the Registrar’s office (non-Rice students will use the National Student Clearinghouse).

Note: Japanese students who plan to apply for a master’s or PhD program in the U.S. are strongly encouraged to include a copy of their Rice University transcript with their application materials for their graduate program/s in the U.S. Japanese students can request a copy of their Rice University transcript at any time in the future through the National Student Clearinghouse (see above). 

Other Program Logistics
Through the support of the Nakatani Foundation, most costs related to student participation in the Nakatani RIES Fellowship are funded. Travel logistics and research project arrangements will be directly coordinated by program faculty and staff. All students will be provided with international health insurance that will provide coverage abroad for illness/accident, medical evacuation, and repatriation of remains.

Students will need to budget individually for personal spending, visa/passport fees, immunizations, and other costs not covered by the program. For more information please see our Program Funding page.


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