2018 U.S. Fellows

Click on the student names below to learn more about the 2018 Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellows including excerpts from their weekly reports!​​


Kaitlin Gili

Home Institution: Stevens Institute of Technology
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Physics with a Minor in Computer Science
Host Lab in Japan: Keio University – Dept. of Applied Physics & Physico-Informatics, Itoh Laboratory and IBM Q Hub at Keio University
Host Professors: Professor Kohei Itoh, Dr. Rudy Raymond, Dr. Rodney Van Meter
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Comparing Classical and Quantum Finite Automata (PDF) 

“This program is the ultimate opportunity for both academic and cultural enrichment. It will allow me to pursue my passion in physics research, as well as provide me with a new perspective and appreciation for a culture that I have yet to explore… This program meant so much to me from being able to conduct research with extraordinary mentors to getting to experience Japanese culture. All in all, my experience this summer was incredible and I know now that I was offered one, if not the best, experience of my life.” ~ Kaitlin Gili 


Joseph (Josh) Laurienzo

Home Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Status: Freshman, Expected Graduation Date: May 2021
Field of Study: Physics and Math with a Minor in Japanese
Host Lab in Japan: The University of Tokyo – Dept. of Applied Physics and Quantum-Phase Electronics Center, Iwasa Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Yoshihiro Iwasa
Research Project Abstract and Poster: A Study of Novel Van der Waals Heterostructures (PDF)

“The greatest meaning of the Nakatani RIES Fellowship to me was the opportunity to see how research is pursued abroad and to develop a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture. In so doing, I was able to put my own culture in perspective. It is hard to realize what is unique about yourself without seeing the differences of others.” ~ Josh Laurienzo


Kenneth Lin

Home Institution: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Physics and Astronomy with a Minor in Mathematics
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Solid State Spectroscopy Group, Tanaka Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Koichiro Tanaka and Prof. Takashi Arikawa
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Ultrafast Carrier Dynamics of Exfoliated Transition Metal Dichalcogenides with Optical-Pump Terahertz-Probe Microscopy (PDF)
Recipient: SCI Summer Research Colloquium Undergraduate Poster Presentation Award 

“Being amongst the Japanese graduate students working in a new field in a new country for me was eye-opening professionally and personally even with the international experience I have had in the past. I became more proactive and resourceful in the lab, and became more independent… the freedom I experienced in my lab here in Japan encouraged me to think ahead to the next steps and formulate my own analysis when things did not go as expected… Thus, I have become more able to function independently as a productive research student and progress towards becoming a researcher.” ~ Kenneth Lin


Gavin McGuire

Home Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Materials Science and Engineering with a Concentration in Structural/Functional Materials Concentration and a Minor in Japanese Language and Culture
Host Professor:  Prof. Hiroshi Kageyama
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Dept. of Energy & Hydrocarbon Chemistry, Kageyama Laboratory
Research Project Abstract & Poster: The Effects of Structural Phase Transition on Photocatalytic Activity (PDF)

“One of my main goals in this program was deciding whether graduate school was for me or not. Thankfully, I have enjoyed my summer so much that I now know that I would love to continue this path after my undergrad career. I developed so many great relationships and skills that I can’t wait to put to use… To this end, I will be continuing my Japanese minor as planned, but want to aim my elective courses towards photomaterials and optics, the field in which I worked this summer. As I approach the coming school years, I will be sure to play to the strengths I’ve developed in this program – independence, communication, flexibility, and most of all, the ability to ask for help. No lab, company, or class is a fully individual endeavor, and there’s never any shame in asking someone else for help!” ~ Gavin McGuire

Ellen Park

Home Institution: Cornell University
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Chemical Engineering
Host Lab in Japan: Nagoya University – Dept. of Chemistry, Shinohara Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Hisanori Shinohara and Prof. Yusuke Nakanishi
Research Abstract and Poster: Encapsulating WS2 Nanoribbons in Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes (PDF)

“There are many similarities and differences between doing research in the U.S. and Japan, and it was interesting to notice and reflect upon these differences. I believe the international collaboration is necessary for the advancement of science, and this summer only further emphasized this point for me. I learned a lot of important research and communication skills that will be applicable in any international lab setting.” ~ Ellen Park 

Janmesh Patel

Home Institution: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering with a Minor in Technical Japanese
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Institute for Integrated Cell-Materials Sciences (iCeMS), Kamei Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Kenichiro Kamei
Research Project Abstract and Poster: Optimizing the differentiation of hiPSC derived hepatocyte-like cells via mechanical stimulation (PDF)

“My research experience this summer has taught me that no matter how careful you are and how dedicated you are to the project, there is no guarantee that things will work out in such a short amount of time. The cells that I was culturing continued to die and thus I could not apply the physical stimulus treatment to the maturing cells. This helped me to realize that no matter how hard you work that there is still a little bit that is left to chance; that small portion can only be influenced by luck, but it is still imperative to give it your all until the very end.” ~ Janmesh Patel

Sahil Patel

Home Institution: Rice University
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Material Science and Nanoengineering with a Minor in Biochemistry
Host Lab in Japan: Kyoto University – Institute of Advanced Energy, Matsuda Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Kazunari Matsuda and Prof. Yuhei Miyauchi
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Understanding Carrier Density and Electric Field Effects on Valley Dynamics in 2D Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (PDF)

“In many ways, it still feels like a dream now that I am back in the United States, but what I can say for certain are that the connections, experiences, and skills that I have gained will stay with me for the rest of my life. At the beginning of this program I really just saw the Nakatani Program as a research program that just so happened to be in Japan. I now see it as so much more: something that has fundamentally helped me grow as an individual.” ~ Sahil Patel 

Benjamin Piazza

Home Institution: Pennsylvania State University
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Physics with a Minor in Japanese
Host Lab in Japan: Chiba University – Division of Nanomaterial Science, Aoki Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Nobuyuki Aoki
Research Project Abstract & Poster: CVD Graphene Nanoribbons by Silver Nanowire Shadowmasking (PDF)

“What I got out of the experience really depends on who I’m talking to. To my family, Nakatani RIES taught me how to truly live independently and adapt to new environments. To a professor, I’d say that the program taught me about a new field of research and did wonders to improve my Japanese. To an employer, I’d say that the experience taught me how to collaborate internationally across a variety of barriers. To a fellow student in my university, I’d tell them that it was fun, and an experience I’ll never forget. When I get back to the USA, I plan to study Japanese with even more fervor than before and continue my research at PSU so that the door to graduate school in Japan is left wide open should I choose that route.” ~ Benjamin Piazza 

Hana Warner

Home Institution: College of William and Mary
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Physics and Mathematics (applied)
Host Lab in Japan: Osaka University – Inst. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Advanced Electronic Devices, Sekitani Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Tsuyoshi Sekitani
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Fabrication of Wearable Heart Monitor Using Organic Amplifier Circuit (PDF)

“I never expected the profound impact that this fellowship would have on me.  With each “yes,” I discovered a burning interest in organic electronics, a confirmation that I absolutely want to go to graduate school and keep conducting physics research, and developed lifelong friendships with my lab mates and the other fellows.  I hiked the highest mountain in Japan, made friends in a language I just began learning months ago, and explored until my shoes fell apart.  This program enhanced my passion for science while broadening my global perspective and understanding of Japanese culture.  I am thankful for the opportunities it has provided me, and plan to continue to learn about organic electronics and study Japanese—I look forward to catching up with the people that I have met at an international conference sometime in the future (or hopefully, on a return trip to Japan!)” ~ Hana Warner 


Samuel Warren

Home Institution: Yale University
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Majoring in Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics
Host Lab in Japan: Kyushu University – Measurement and Instrument Lab, Kiss Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Takanobu Kiss
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Scanning Hall Probe Microscopy Analysis of Critical Current Density in Superconducting Materials (PDF)

“I think the Nakatani Program was meaningful because it introduced me to a part of the world and specifically Japan I probably never would have gone to. I don’t think many people visiting Japan go to I don’t think many people visiting Japan to to Kyushu and fewer people actually live out in farmland… My favorite experiences in Japan were hiking in the mountains on a rainy day, and experiencing several acts of kindness from strangers along the way.” ~ Samuel Warren

Lincoln Weber

Home Institution: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Status: Freshman, Expected Graduation Date: May 2021
Field of Study: Physics and Mechanical Engineering with Minors in Mathematics and Spanish
Host Lab in Japan: Osaka University – Inst. of Laser Engineering, THz Photonics, Tonouchi Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Masayoshi Tonouchi and Prof. Iwao Kawayama
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Terahertz Emission from Aligned Carbon Nanotubes (PDF)

“The biggest takeaway from this summer experience, then, was my realization that different people from different places work, live, and behave differently, but they can still collaborate effectively to do great things, especially in the context of physics research. I feel very lucky that I have been able to see both the Japanese approach and the American approach to research, and I’m sure that will help with international collaborations during graduate school and during my career” ~ Lincoln Weber 

Grace Wickerson

Home Institution: Rice University
Status: Sophomore, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020
Field of Study: Materials Science and Nanoengineering with Minors in Environmental Studies and Global Health Technologies
Host Lab in Japan: The University of Tokyo – Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Maruyama-Chiashi Laboratory
Host Professor:  Prof. Shigeo Maruyama
Research Project Abstract & Poster: Synthesis and Characterization of Horizontally-Aligned Nanotube Heterostructures (PDF)

“[I learned there] is the difference between doing research and being a researcher. When you just do research, you don’t care about understanding what you’re doing, just getting the data that your supervisor tells you is good. But when you are a researcher, the process – from idea, to knowledge building, to implementation and analysis – is what drives you.” ~ Grace Wickerson


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