We welcome ten researchers in April 2020, and one researcher in July 2020 at the Institute.
Due to the diversity of careers, advanced maternal age pregnancy becomes one of the main issues of interest these days. Although infertility and the higher rate of birth defects are evidently related to maternal age, it remains unclear how oocytes are aging. My research aim is to understand the molecular mechanisms that controls chromosome structure in meiosis and to contribute to the field of oocyte aging.
I have developed experimental systems which manipulate the state of an atom (its motional and internal energy states), as well as high-quality optical cavities based on optical fiber technologies. My current research aim is to merge these novel experimental techniques to realize a new quantum system.
Multi-substituted alicyclic molecules possess highly three-dimensional structure, often being examined in medicinal chemistry. This study challenges the development of innovative synthetic method of valuable multi-substituted alicyclic molecules by means of dearomative functionalization of easily available aromatic molecules.
I have engaged myself in the empirical research into health inequality in low- and middle-income countries in Asia. I have explored the dynamic mechanism through which individual health status and his/her socioeconomic status are influencing each other, exploiting the large-scale microdata in each country. My interests also lie in the evaluations of the policies aiming to mitigate health inequality.
My study analyzes the problems the poor faced in a historical context, especially during pre-war Japan. It re-examines the mostly anecdotal previous literature on the subject and also introduces newly collected data. It points out the relationship between political factors and poverty-related problems. My goal is to try to understand social problems in the world both in the past and present and to contribute to their solution.
My research interests include political parties and their support organizations such as interest groups and labor unions. My research focuses on the center-left political parties and examines how support bases of political parties have changed with various social changes such as industrial structures, declining organizational votes and increases of independent voters. Moreover, my research aims to understand how support bases of political parties have influenced political parties’ performances and party systems.
Dr. Alison Xu obtained a LLB and a LLM from China, and a PhD from University of Leeds. Her main research interests lie in the areas of private international law, and the interaction between law and new technologies. She is always driven by researching the legal aspects underpinned the dynamical cross-border activities. The current project focuses on exploring the role of private international law in securing a sustainable future.
My research uses microeconomics and econometrics techniques and addresses questions such as: How do people decide on their investment in human capital, like education and health? What consequences do such investment behaviours have? What effects do related policies have on such investment behaviours? I am interested in issues in low income countries mainly in Africa, but I also work on related topics using data from Japan.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), I have conducted research on the brain function of sensory-motor characteristics and difficulty of interpersonal communication for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Based on these findings, I will develop research to elucidate how problems arise in a social group. I am also interested in applying fMRI to other fields and I conduct collaborative research with researchers specializing in education and sports.
One may think that they always get to choose the music genres, singers or bands to listen to. Even though we prefer specific music, we are always surrounded by various kinds of music, like TV and film music, café background music, street performances, or local festival music. My research interests involve such “discursive” music experiences and their effects on the music itself. Recently, I have been conducting a study on theatre culture at hot spring resorts.
I have deciphered the religious texts of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī, an Advaita Vedānta scholar in India who flourished in about the 16th – 17th centuries CE. Madhusūdhana established for the first time the system of bhakti, a devotion to the Supreme Deity, to the Advaita Vedānta School. In order to elucidate the actual process, I have analyzed his bhakti thought found in some of his works.
Introduction of the outcomes of Associate Professor Naka’s research
The outcomes of Associate Professor Naka’s research on spin current generation mechanism were published in Nature Communications on September 20, 2019. The following is a report of his latest research.
Spin current generation in organic antiferromagnets
NAKA Makoto, Associate Professor
Since resources such as fossil fuels and rare metals are scarce in Japan, demand for energy conserving technology will continue to increase in the future. However, the development of ultimate energy-saving devices, not reliant on scarce resources and with zero energy loss, would dramatically enhance the potential for new developments in electronics. The research outcome reported here brings us one step closer to realizing that dream.
Driving electronic devices using electronic spin rather than electric current
The electrons in matter have electric charges; at the same time they have the property of spin that behaves as a small magnet. Most of the electronic devices that support our modern life are powered by electric current, which is the flow of electric charge. However, if that electric current could be replaced with spin current, it would be possible to develop the ultimate energy-saving devices, which unlike today’s devices, are free from Joule heating (production of energy when electric current is applied). To achieve that use of spin current, it is necessary to understand spin current as fully as we understand electric current, and to be able to control it precisely.
What are the problems related to the use of spin current?
One of the methods of efficiently creating spin current is based on the spin Hall effect, which was discovered in the early 2000s. That method requires rare and expensive heavy metals such as platinum, since the effect stems from the property called spin-orbit coupling, whose strength corresponds to the weight of the atoms in the substance. However, although spin-orbit coupling can generate spin current with high efficiency, there is a dilemma: the heavier the atoms in a substance, the shorter the distance that the generated spin current travels in that substance. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a completely new principle of spin current generation.
Creating spin current with common lightweight atoms such as hydrogen and carbon!
In their theoretical work to solve the above problems, the collaborative research team discovered a new alternative to spin-orbit coupling, in which spin currents are created using organic compounds composed of common lightweight atoms such as hydrogen and carbon. Organic compounds have a useful characteristic: their molecules can be oriented in specific directions to form crystals, because the constituent units are molecules in which two or more atoms are bonded. This research focused on the organic compound κ-(BEDT-TTF)2Cu[N(CN)2]Cl, which is a crystalline substance made of BEDT-TTF molecules (composed of hydrogen and carbon) lined up in a regular pattern. Looking at the structure of this material close up, we can see pairs of plate-shaped BEDT-TTF molecules arranged in a pattern similar to that of an antiskid plate [Fig. 1(a)]. We analyzed that pattern and calculated the flow of spins in the material theoretically, based on quantum mechanics. We found that in an antiferromagnetic state in which the electron spins of the two types of pairs A and B are aligned in opposite directions, when an electric field or thermal gradient is applied externally to this material, the electrons with upward spin and downward spins are rectified to opposite directions. This means that spin current is generated in the direction perpendicular to the direction of the applied electric field / thermal gradient [Fig. 1(b)].
This spin current generation phenomenon is based on a new principle that is different from the conventional spin Hall effect,*1 which has for some time been the most popular method of creating spin current. The new phenomenon is capable of efficient generation of spin current, even using organic compounds made of lightweight elements. Theoretical calculations indicate that the efficiency of that new spin current generation is in fact comparable to that of the spin Hall effect in platinum.
About the future
These research findings significantly expand the possibilities of new spin-based electronics, and undoubtedly bring us one step closer to the realization of the dream of electronic devices that do not generate Joule heat. As the antiferromagnetic state shown in Fig. 1(b) has already been observed in κ-(BEDT-TTF)2Cu[N(CN)2]Cl, it is expected that it will be verified by spin current generation experiments in the near future. However, since organic compounds generally exhibit magnetism at extremely low temperatures, the challenge is to find a substance that exhibits magnetism at a higher temperature, for use in research aimed at practical outcomes.
The real thrill of basic physical property research is the possibility of discovering new substances with previously unimagined properties, through working with the enormous number of substances that can be created by freely combining some 100 different parts (elements). The frontier of this research is vast, and I continue my research every day, feeling sure that lurking at that frontier are many substances that will greatly change the way people live in the distant future.
*1 The phenomenon in which a spin current is generated perpendicular to an electric field applied to a substance. This occurs when the direction of motion (orbit) of an electron changes, depending on the spin direction resulting from the spin-orbit coupling. This phenomenon has actually been observed at the interfaces of heavy metals and semiconductors that have large spin-orbit couplings; it is considered to be a powerful method for generating and controlling spin current.
Author: NAKA Makoto, Associate Professor
Friends with Enemies—Neutrality and Nonalignment Then and Now,
an international conference co-hosted by WIAS, held in Austria March 2–3, 2020.
A brief report by Assistant Professor Pascal LOTTAZ, organizer.
On March 2 and 3, 2020, researchers from Waseda University and a consortium of international scholars led by the International Institute for Peace (a Vienna-based NGO) joined in Friends with Enemies—Neutrality and Nonalignment Then and Now, a conference on neutrality. This successful scholarly event discussed contemporary positions on neutrality; examined the role of neutral states in the post-Cold War world, and explored the relevance of neutrality to the future.
Sixteen panelists, academics and practitioners from Asia, Europe, and America, presented their work and contributed their expert insights regarding neutrality as foreign policy, as a tool of diplomacy, and as an element of national identity.
The conference was honored to receive a keynote speech on March 2 by the former President of Austria, Dr. Heinz Fischer, who gave an insightful overview of Austria‘s 65 years of neutrality policy. Dr. Fischer, who was 17 years old when Austria‘s neutrality policy was first adopted (1955), gave an engaging, personal account of his life as a statesperson. He has served Austria in various roles, notably as head of state, as a member of the national parliament, and as a leader of civil society organizations.
Keynote speech by ex-President of Austria Dr. Heinz Fischer
Over the two days, four panels discussed theoretical issues of neutralism, while a “neutrality and art” breakout session in the afternoon of March 2 took a more emotional and artistic approach to the conference theme.
Panel 1, Neutrality and Nonalignment in a Historical Perspective, examined historical examples of neutral states and neutral international relations policy in medieval Europe and during the Cold War and the Second World War. The wide-ranging discussions addressed topics including Finnish neutrality and the question of its voluntary nature; Soviet Russia‘s role in the neutralization of Austria; and great power constellations in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that prompted the adoption of various neutrality strategies by small states and great powers.
Dr. Heinz Gärtner leads the discussion following the first panel in the university of Vienna’s Sky Lounge
Panel 2, The Neutrals and Geopolitics, debated neutrality’s relevance to and impact on today’s international system, where the presence of small and large neutrals offers opportunities to enhance cooperation and decrease conflict. Realist, idealist, and constructivist approaches were discussed, and the change of the neutrality concept received considerable attention. The panelists were in general agreement that while geography and tactical considerations are often the main motives for a nation state’s adoption of neutralist strategies, neutralist policy tends to have after-effects too, especially an effect on the identity of a neutral state’s population.
Angela Kane, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, explains the importance of multilateralism for neutrals
In the afternoon of March 2, the panel Neutrality and Art—the Art of Independence offered an alternative approach to the conference theme. First, a lecture by a sociology professor Christoph Reinprecht and Austrian Pen Club President Helmut Niederle illuminated contemporary challenges to artists from neutral states. Afterwards, six neutral state artists presented their poems and music, illustrating some of the previous debates in an emotional manner. Conversations about the art and science of neutrality and nonalignment continued into the evening at the reception for participants and invited guests, organized by the International Institute for Peace.
Panel 3, held on March 3, was the themed The Role of Neutral and Nonaligned States in Multilateral Institutions. Panelists pointed out that multilateralism has been essential for neutral states to leverage their potential, and that multilateral environments are among the most conductive to the humanitarian aspects of neutralism. Swiss, Austrian, and Belarusian examples were illuminating. An intense debate followed the presentations, with contributions from current and former diplomats present—testimony that neutrality politics is highly relevant to, and has a strong impact on, current affairs today. The diplomacy of neutral states is influenced by strategic concerns such as maintaining independent but constructive roles in the international system.
Yauheni Preiherman discusses the strategic choices of Belarus in the current security environment
The last panel, Neutrality, Non-Alignment and Values—From Good Offices to Engagement, consisted of four presentations offering liberal interpretations of the central theme of values. The wide-ranging debate brought a sense of unity to the two days of discussion. That panel concluded the conference, and also opened a new topic for the future, the desirability (or the moral impact) of neutrality.
Practitioners debate. From left, Christine Muttonen, former Minister of the European Parliament; Angela Kane, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Peter Jankowitsch, former Foreign Ministry of Austria; Pascal Lago, security expert
Many questions remain, but the insights generated at the conference, and the network created there, will support neutrality researchers around the world in their crafting of new approaches to national and human security in the coming years.
For more information, and pictures of the conference, see the official conference report:
Author: Pascal LOTTAZ , Assistant Professor
WIAS invites distinguished, internationally active researchers from overseas. Through scholarly exchanges, seminars, and other activities jointly undertaken with Waseda researchers, WIAS contributes to the invigoration of the university’s research activities. more information
- June 5, 2020～August 3 2020 LIM, Hyunjung, Professor, Yamaguchi Prefectural University
Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS)
1st floor, Nishi-Waseda Bldg. 1-21-1 Nishi Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8050, JAPAN