2017 U.S. Fellows

Click on the student names below to learn more about the 2017 Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellows including excerpts from their weekly reports!

Savannah Cofer

Rice University, Freshman
Mechanical Engineering, Computational & Applied Mathematics, and Japanese
Host Lab in Japan: The University of Tokyo – Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Maruyama-Chiashi Laboratory
Research Project: “Patterning Vertically Aligned Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes” (PDF) Winner Undergraduate Poster Presentation Award – 3rd Annual Smalley-Curl Institute Summer Research Colloquium (Light Conversion Award)

“One of the reasons why I really enjoyed this project was because there was a lot of freedom and flexibility to try new things and new ideas based on the results of the previous test. Even though there were too many flops to count, it was exciting to see my results gradually get better and better over the course of the summer. I also loved how my project had a very direct and tangible real-world application. This experience further solidified my goal of attending graduate school and continuing to do research.” ~ Savannah Cofer

William Funkenbusch

University of Rochester, Sophomore
Chemical Engineering and Japanese
Host Lab in Japan: Toyota Technological University – Energy Materials Laboratory
Research Project: “Investigation of Pseudogap in High-Tc Cuprate Superconductors – Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ” (PDF) 

“Becoming so engrossed in Japanese culture gave me an incredible appreciation for what it means to be Japanese. Comparing that to my own identity as an American made me realize that subtle differences in culture can lead to drastically different thoughts and behaviors. To stay in my American bubble and view the world according to that standard would be ignoring many relevant factors in my communication with others. In that way, this program provided me with a lot of perspective on what it truly means to be Japanese, to be American, to be an internationally conscious person.” ~ William Fukenbusch


Jakob Grzesik

Rice University, Freshman
Electrical Engineering and Mathematics
Host Lab in Japan: Tohoku University – Dept. of Physics, Saito Laboratory
Research Project: “Observing and Modeling Synchronization Phenomena in Oscillatory Systems” (PDF)

“By coming to Japan and understanding a culture that is both close to and removed from my identity, I’ve come to acknowledge another part of humanity that I want to preserve and carry on with me throughout my life and pass on to those whom we surround ourselves with, both changing and being changed by them… In a sense, this may be what science is. We spend our lives trying to learn the language of the world through our growing comprehension of the building blocks of the world and the mechanisms that make them come together and apart. We are in a continuing process of trying to learn about what makes us and everything around us the way they are…” ~ Jakob Grzesik 

Rose Huang

Columbia University, Freshman
Computer Science and Materials Science & Engineering
Host Lab in Japan: Keio University – Dept. of Applied Physics & Physico-Informatics, Itoh Laboratory
Research Project: “Design of Microwave Antenna for Orbital Angular Momentum Transfer Research Using Electron Spins in Diamond” (PDF)

“The Nakatani RIES Fellowship is a truly life-changing program that has had such a profound impact on my perspective on scientific research, graduate school, and intercultural learning and communication. To participate in an international internship is such an amazing learning opportunity – I gained a deep appreciation for Japanese history, language, and culture, and I also learned so much more than I thought was possible about myself. The Nakatani RIES Fellowship provided me with so many resources to succeed in both research and cultural education, and truly pushes all of the fellows to make the most out of their summer. ~ Rose Huang

Alexander Hwang

Rice University, Sophomore
Electrical Engineering and Minor in Physics
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Institute of Advanced Energy, Matsuda Laboratory
Research Project: “Exciton linewidth effect on valley relaxation in 2D TMDCs” (PDF)

“[The] Nakatani RIES Fellowship was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to date. I experienced a huge amount of growth as a scientist, working in a cutting-edge research laboratory where I was challenged to work hard on a demanding research project. In doing so, I made numerous international connections and gained cross-cultural experience working in a large, international laboratory group, which I feel will be invaluable as I continue my scientific career in a world that is becoming more and more globalized… Living independently in Japan and being immersed in the many aspects of Japanese culture that contrast strongly with those of American culture taught me much about my own personal values and beliefs… I not only became more confident in my abilities as a scientist and a leader, but also felt myself develop into a more empathetic, patient, and mature person.” ~ Alex Hwang

Aaron Coe (Formerly Ludvigsen)

Bethel University, Sophomore
Physics and Computer Science; Minor in Mathematics
Host Lab in Japan: Osaka University – Inst. of Laser Engineering, THz Photonics, Tonouchi Laboratory
Research Project: “Exploration of Charge Dynamics of Well-Aligned CNT (6,5) Through THz Generation” (PDF)

“[The] Nakatani RIES Fellowship confirmed to me that I want to pursue a graduate degree in materials science/condensed physics. It was amazing being able to perform research at the graduate level and experience what graduate school may be like. In terms of culture, I learned so much about Japan, especially when it comes to daily life. My interest in Japan has deepened and I hope to return to Japan in the future…  Initially, I thought I would connect with only Japanese people but I met people from all around the world. I now have friends in Sweden, Italy, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, China, India, Madagascar, Philippines, and Japan! Frankly, I was astonished by the connections I formed. In addition to marvelous research opportunities, Nakatani RIES was also an incredible opportunity to learn about different cultures and viewpoints of people from different countries. As I look to the future, I want to continue to participate in international experiences and to become a driving force in bringing countries together to perform and to share scientific endeavors.” ~ Aaron Ludvigsen

Katelyn Miyasaki

Washington University in St. Louis, Sophomore
Biomedical Engineering and Minor in Design
Host Lab in Japan: Osaka University – LaSIE, Kawata-Fujita Laboratory
Research Project: “Imaging Beyond the Diffraction Limit: Visible-light Two-Photon Excitation for Subtractive SAX Microscopy” (PDF)

“When I was applying for the Nakatani RIES Fellowship, I wrote that I wanted to try new experiences and learn more about a culture that has always been both mine and not – I saw myself in the way Japan pays attention to detail and repetition, but knew I was only seeing a fraction of the whole picture. When we had our pre-orientation at Rice University, we were shown a diagram of culture as an iceberg, where the tip of the iceberg, the part visible above the water, is the physical manifestations of culture – the crafts, the festivals, the music, the events. But the much larger part, and the part that’s most important to understand, is more subtle, lying just below the water’s surface. I got a quick glimpse at the underwater part of Japanese culture this summer, from the incredible kindness and courtesy shown by the Japanese to their razor-sharp focus to their love of quiet beauty… Of course, many observations of Japanese culture came from the other US Nakatani Fellows and from speaking with the Japanese Nakatani Fellows. I have learned so much from these people, and they’re the other meaning of this program… Thanks to them, I’ve learned to see in new ways, question my own thoughts and self, and to grow.” ~ Katelyn Miyasaki

Emily Nishiwaki

Current University: Cornell University, Chemistry
Prior University: Case Western Reserve University, Freshman
Materials Science & Engineering and Minor in Japanese
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Dept. of Energy & Hydrocarbon Chemistry, Kageyama Laboratory
Research Project: “Exploring Zn-Based Visible Light Induced Photocatalysts” (PDF)

“This summer, I learned what it was like to do research in an incredibly prestigious lab. This research experience was a completely different than what I could have experienced in any lab in the U.S. By working in the Kageyama Laboratory I was able to learn what the culture of Japanese laboratory was like, as well as meet some amazing people who I strive to be like one day… Everyone in the lab is incredibly smart, humble and kind. They never hesitated to help me with anything, regardless of how basic the question or task was … Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my research experience, from the research area I explored to the getting to know what the “research life” is all about. I’m now much more sure I want to pursue a master’s degree and even a PhD in the STEM fields.” ~ Emily Nishiwaki 

Trevor Shimokusu

University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, Sophomore
Mechanical Engineering
Host Lab in Japan: Chiba University – Division of Nanomaterial Science, Aoki Laboratory
Research Project: “Relation Between Phase Transition and Laser Irradiation Strength and Time through Phase Patterning of MoTe2″ (PDF)

“… Nakatani RIES aims to broaden the perspectives of young and passionate STEM students with the hopes of encouraging collaboration and curiosity. Over the three amazing months I enjoyed in Japan, I developed international relationships with a diverse range of people, and became more inquisitive through constant exposure to cutting-edge research and immersion in an intriguing culture… Immersion in the Japanese culture opened my mind to new ways of thinking. I not only fulfilled my desire to learn more the Japanese culture, but inherently became more culturally sensitive as well. At the beginning of the summer I could only observe external aspects of the Japanese culture such as the food, music, and language. However, as the summer progressed I became more aware of deeper underlying cultural aspects such as values, expectations, and social assumptions. The development of these ideas along with many more allowed me to understand the tremendous influence culture has on society. With that being said, I am now interested and excited to learn about other cultures to realize how they reflect the natures of their respective societies and people.” ~ Trevor Shimokusu

Shivani Shukla

Carnegie Mellon University, Freshman
Materials Science & Engineering and Biomedical Engineering
Host Lab in Japan: Nagoya University – Dept. of Chemistry, Shinohara Laboratory
Research Project: “Encapsulation of Te nanowires and MoTe2 Nanoribbons Inside Carbon Nanotubes” (PDF)

“The Nakatani RIES Fellowship is unique because of its forward-looking goals. At the beginning of the summer, I wrote that I was excited to do research and experience Japanese culture. I never imagined how intertwined these two experiences could be. Research in Japan opened up an entirely new work of possibilities and perspectives.  I finally understand the term “global citizen”, and can say with certainty that I used it in vain at the beginning of the summer. More than that, I believe it is crucial that more students have this experience. Future scientists need to have a global mindset, because that’s where research is headed.” ~ Shivani Shukla 

Kaylene Stocking

University of Pittsburgh, Sophomore
Computer Engineering and Bioengineering
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Institute for Integrated Cell-Materials Sciences (iCeMS), Kamei Laboratory
Research Project: “Small Compounds and Microfluidic Culture for Inducing Maturation of hiPSC-derived Hepatocyte-Like Cells” (PDF)

“Both the research project and my experiences outside the lab have helped me become much more independent. Living and traveling and conducting experiments on my own has given me more confidence in my ability to make plans and deal with unforeseen problems. My experiences in Japan also taught me about culture, and how it helps shape but does not define who we are as individuals. I’m so, so grateful to the Nakatani RIES fellowship for giving me the opportunity to learn more about research, myself, and the world around me. This program has not only influenced how I envision my future education and career, but has helped me fundamentally develop as a person. Although it’s been hard to come back to the U.S., I’m excited to take what I’ve learned this summer and make the most of my remaining time in college.” ~ Kaylene Stocking

Joshua Yang

University of Texas, Austin, Sophomore
Electrical & Computer Engineering and Mathematics
Host Lab in Japan: The University of Tokyo – Dept. of Applied Physics and Quantum-Phase Electronics Center, Iwasa Laboratory
Research Project: “WSe2Thin-Film Growth by Molecular Beam Epitaxy” (PDF)
Winner Undergraduate Poster Presentation Award – 3rd Annual Smalley-Curl Institute Summer Research Colloquium (Light Conversion Award)

“When looking back over the past three months, and when thinking of the summer in Japan that seemingly just flew by, I find it hard to put into words the meaning and profound impact that the Nakatani RIES Fellowship program has had on my life… It was a time of exploration and wonder: wonder for all the awesome sights in Japan, and exploration for all the unique and lively cities. A time of learning and discovery: learning about the scientific processes behind research, and discovering the complex and intriguing cultural intricacies in Japan. A time of hardship and trial: hardship in the ever-present setbacks for research, and trial in the sometimes-crushing loneliness and self-contemplation. Even more than that though, this experience was a time of friendship: building and forming lasting bonds between an incredible group of bright individuals, and creating relationships that I will continue to cherish for years to come. The Nakatani RIES Fellowship helped me grow as a student, as a researcher, as a friend, and most of all, as a person. I can’t express enough gratitude for what was hands-down the best summer of my life.” ~ Joshua Yang


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