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Hiroshi Yokoyama, Ph.D.

Nineteen Kent State faculty members have been named to be in the top 2% of scientists in the world based on a recent study published by Stanford University scholars.

The report, published in the PLOS Biology Journal, evaluated more than six million scientists across 22 different fields and 176 sub-fields from 1996 until 2019. The top 2% list is made up of more than 100,000 most-cited scientists who have authored at least five scientific papers. For more information on the list and the other Kent State researchers who are on it.

I want to broaden the horizon of our knowledge wherever I feel I can make a difference. I do not want to keep doing the same thing. I just want to offer a small intellectual surprise to people, however small in number, through my research.

Questions & Answers

Why did you decide to pursue your field of research?

I aspired to the field of electronics and the physics of electro-magnetism when I was a teenager.  Through college and graduate school pursuing a number of related fields and topics from nuclear fusion research to high voltage insulation, I happened to see liquid crystals by chance.  I was fascinated by the beauty and the application potential as well as its connection to electronic device engineering.  This is why I got involved in liquid crystal research 40 years ago. 

What would you tell a student at the beginning of their academic career?

I always emphasize the significance of academic fundamentals.  In this rapidly evolving world, especially in the technical area, it is becoming even more important to build a solid basis of knowledge and skill that remains valuable no matter where the frontier of technical endeavor is.  I encourage students to dig one level deeper to acquire a "working" knowledge to the level that they can "use" it beyond just knowing it. 

Tell us a little about your research:

My main field of research is the surface physics of liquid crystals.  This is a broad area overarching basic science and advanced applications.  It requires new knowledge and new tools.  I enjoy developing new tools of research for analytical purpose or engineering purpose.   With a new tool, one can see a new horizon of science.  That is what I have been doing.  I developed a new method to quantify the mechanical property of liquid crystal surfaces, explored the physics behind the behaviors of molecules at surfaces, worked out a piece of theory and created methods for fabrication of functional surfaces.   

What are you hoping to accomplish?

I do not have one single goal to achieve but I want to broaden the horizon of our knowledge wherever I feel I can make a difference.  I do not want to keep doing the same thing.  I just want to offer a small intellectual surprise to people, however small in number, through my research.  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be honest to facts.

Who is someone you admire, and why?

Srinivasa Ramanujan, a truly superhuman genius in number theory. His mathematical discoveries are entirely beyond my comprehension. I cannot extrapolate the human ability from where I stand to his. What he brought to this world and the way he did are divinely otherworldly.  I can logically perceive the genius of Einstein, Newton and Maxwell, but not his. It seems to be that the existence of such an individual is the proof of unlimited capacity of humans. This is particularly significant in this era of AI. 

Do you have any skills or talents most people don’t know about?

I play, collect and restore saxophones.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I play with saxophones.

What does it mean to you to be included in the top 2% in your field?

It is an unexpected recognition. I have just done what I thought was interesting and valuable. I think I was lucky to be able to do things that could get recognized this way, and I am grateful to my family, collaborators, sponsors, colleagues and KSU that made my personal dedication to research possible.

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