Kent State forms Partnership with Kyoto University
Recently, the Department of Anthropology at Kent State University established a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan. Kyoto University is one of the world’s leading research institutions, counting ten Nobel Prize laureates among its faculty and alumni.
Dr. Anthony Tosi is leading the international collaborations, as well as Drs. Mary Ann Raghanti and Richard Meindl, and C. Owen Lovejoy. Two graduate students have also traveled to Kyoto University funded by the National Science Foundation EAPSI (East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students). Emily Munger and Cody Ruiz spent ten weeks at the university conducting individual research projects. Both students kept a blog to document their research, as well as their international travels.
Although this program is open to all Anthropology Graduate students, it is extremely selective. According to Dr. Tosi, “Drs. Raghanti, Meindl, Lovejoy and I guide the preparation of individual NSF proposals from our graduate students. I then identify Japanese host scientists with complementary interests and build the research connections. If we receive one of two pending grants to support groups of students, I will head the committee that reviews applications from interested KSU candidates and – in consultation with Drs. Raghanti, Meindl, and Lovejoy – select the strongest applicants.”
This program is unique in many ways. It highlights a much different approach to the way science is taught in the United States. Students get more out of researching abroad because of the different teaching methods. For example, in Japan, they encourage students to immediately go into the field to research, rather than reading the data first and being biased toward it.
This is such a huge a great opportunity for students because Kent State doesn’t have access to the type of resources available at Kyoto. The facilities are much better and students get the chance to develop collaborative relationships with some of the best primatologists in the world.
“Scientific investigations are quickly becoming multi-cultural, multi-national endeavors, and this is particularly evident in collaborations between the United States and Japan. Our program creates significant opportunities for engagement between American and Japanese researchers and thereby increases the cultural competencies of scientists in both countries. A research experience in Japan is especially useful to our graduate students because it will allow them to build professional networks early in their careers,” said Tosi.
He added, “It also complements our department in many areas. We don’t have access to those skeletal materials or all these living species of primates. We can send our students there to develop their professional networks.”
Although this program is fairly new, it has gotten great reviews from the two students who participated, along with the Japanese researchers involved. Because of this, Dr. Tosi has plans to broaden the program in the future so more students are able to take advantage of the resources and connections. It is his goal to add the University of Indonesia and the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources in Vietnam to this growing international network.