About Our Team

The Nakatani RIES team has extensive prior experience in the development and management of international education and research experience programs for U.S. and Japanese science and engineering students. See our Related Programs page for more information.

Nakatani Foundation Team Members

  • Coming Soon

Team Members in Japan

  • Coming Soon

Team Members in the U.S.

Research Director: Prof. Junichiro Kono
Rice University, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Junichiro Kono is a leader in optical studies of condensed matter systems and photonic applications of nanosystems, including semiconductor nanostructures and carbon-based nanomaterials. He has made a number of pioneering contributions to the diverse fields of semiconductor optics, terahertz spectroscopy and devices, ultrafast and quantum optics, and condensed matter physics. Specifically, his high-impact achievements include: exploration of extreme nonlinear optics in semiconductors using small-energy photons; ultrafast optical manipulation of collective spins in ferromagnetic semiconductors; observation of the Aharonov-Bohm effect in carbon nanotubes via magneto-optics; ultrafast and nonlinear optical studies of carbon nanotubes; first observation of superfluorescence in a solid through cooperative recombination of quantum degenerate electron-hole pairs. nanotubes; first observation of superfluorescence in a solid through cooperative recombination of quantum degenerate electron-hole pairs.

Professor Kono is also the founder of the nationally recognized international program for science and engineering undergraduate students, the NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation from 2006 – 2015.  Under Prof. Kono’s leadership, Rice University has also expanded opportunities for Japanese students to conduct research at Rice through the NanoREIS Internship Program and strengthened Rice’s relationships with our Japanese partners abroad through the signing of university-level Memorandum of Understanding and Exchange Agreements with Osaka University, the University of Tokyo, Hokkaido University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Osaka Institute of Technology. Dean’s level agreements have also been signed with Tohoku University, Tottori University, and Chiba University.

He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in applied physics from the University of Tokyo in 1990 and 1992, respectively, and completed his Ph.D. in physics from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1995. He was a postdoctoral research associate in condensed matter physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1995-1997 and the W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory Fellow in the Department of Physics at Stanford University in 1997-2000. He joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of Rice University in 2000 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005 and to Professor in 2009. He is currently a Professor in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, and Materials Science & NanoEngineering at Rice University.

Nakatani RIES Education Program Director: Sarah Phillips
Rice University, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Sarah Phillips serves as the Education Program Director for the Nakatani RIES Fellowship. Sarah manages all U.S. & Japanese student outreach & recruitment, orientation and re-entry programming, education & cultural programming and curricular development, oversight and coordination of external quality assurance & student assessment consultant, preparation and submission of annual sponsor reports, and alumni programming in the U.S. She also facilitates the negotiation of Memorandum of Understanding and Exchange agreements with partner institutions in Japan in collaboration with Prof. Kono and Rice University Office of the President.

From 2006 – 2015 she served as the Education International Initiatives Manager for the NSF-PIRE “U.S.- Japan Cooperative Research and Education on Terahertz Dynamics in Nanostructures” grant at Rice University. In collaboration with the Prof. Junichiro Kono (PI) and Dr. Cheryl Matherly (PIRE Education Director), she created and managed all aspects of the NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. From 2006 – 2015, this program sent 144 young U.S. engineering and physics students to Japan for research, language, and cultural study and it has received national recognition and awards as a model program for the expansion of international opportunities for STEM students. NanoJapan was awarded the Heiskell Award for Innovation from the Institute of International Education in 2008 and was profiled in a National Academy of Engineering report on “Infusing Real World Experiences into Engineering Education” in 2012. She also co-developed and managed the NanoREIS Internship Program and the 2011 Reverse NanoJapan Program which was developed in response to the 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

Prior to her position at Rice, she worked at the Institute of International Education (IIE) on the U.S. Department of State funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and completed a three-month assignment at the IIE office in Doha, Qatar. She received an Post-Graduate Certificate from the East-West Center for the Asia-Pacific Leadership Program, an M.L.A. in International Studies from the University of St. Thomas, Houston, and a B.A. in History, Political Science, and East Asian Studies from Minnesota State University, Moorhead. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa pursuing a Ph.D. program in Educational Foundations and her research focuses on international education for science & engineering (S&E) students.

Nakatani RIES Program Coordinator (TBD)
Rice University, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Under the supervision of the Education Program Director, the Program Coordinator (TBD) will assist with the project’s financial and logistical management to include processing of financial expenses and invoices, travel and logistical arrangements, preparation of visa application packets for incoming Japanese students, scheduling and coordination of classroom and meeting spaces, assisting the Education Program Director with on-site workshops at Rice University for both U.S. and Japanese participants, and other related duties as assigned.

Nakatani RIES Program Assessment Consultant: Dr. Cheryl Matherly
Lehigh University, Vice President & Vice Provost for International Affairs

Dr. Cheryl Ann Matherly, currently vice provost for global education at the University of Tulsa, has been appointed as Lehigh’s new vice president and vice provost for international affairs. Matherly, an experienced and highly respected university administrator with nearly 15 years of experience working in international affairs, will formally take office at Lehigh on March 31, 2016. She will serve as an assessment consultant and external advisor for the Nakatani RIES Fellowship.

Matherly, who has authored or co-authored three books, numerous chapters and journal articles, also remains active in the classroom as an applied assistant professor in Tulsa’s Department of Educational Studies, a role she has held since 2007. Before arriving at Tulsa, Matherly served as assistant dean of students for career and international education and as director of the career services center at Rice University in Houston.

She has an Ed.D. in education from the University of Houston, an M.S. in college student personnel administration from Indiana University and a B.A. in English literature and political science from the University of New Mexico.

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