Research Support Activities

Special Award for Tokyo Tech Advanced Researchers【STAR】

Overview

By utilizing the Tokyo Institute of Technology Fund, we provide large-scale grants to young researchers grappling with research topics that have the potential to become national projects in the future and to those who have achieved distinguished results in the fundamental sciences. The fund is designed to support these rising stars of the next generation.
STAR began providing support in 2013.

【Selection process】

Based on their career and research achievements, recipients are selected by the president and the director of the Office of Research and Innovation. Individuals cannot apply for this grant.

<Selection criteria>

  1. Young researchers grappling with research topics that have the potential to become national projects in the future
  2. Young researchers who demonstrate outstanding achievement in the fundamental sciences

<Eligibility>

  1. Early-career researchers with the title of associate professor or below (in principle, under the age of 40)
 

Application

Recipients are selected by the president and the director of the Office of Research and Innovation. Individuals cannot apply for this grant.
Every year around January, the director of the Office of Research and Innovation notifies selected researchers of their grants.

FY2022 Grant Recipients

Affiliation Title Name
Department of Chemical Science and Engineering,
School of Materials and Chemical Technology
Associate Professor Toshiki SAWADA
Future of Humanity Research Center
Institute for Liberal Arts
Associate Professor Kyohhei KITAMURA
Institute for Liberal Arts Associate Professor Yuta SUZUKI
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Research overview

澤田先生 写真

<Associate Prof. SAWADA>
【Genetic engineering and machine learning-based development of function-oriented biopolymers】
With the rapid development of biotechnology in recent years, it has become easier to modify the functions of biopolymers such as proteins and peptides, and biopolymers are starting to be used as material components. However, in most cases, natural biopolymers do not have features suitable for material use, and it has been difficult to prepare biopolymers suitably modified to show material function-oriented features. This is partly because the functional properties of biopolymers have been optimized for use in living organisms during the evolution process. We have studied the development of biopolymers with suitable modifications and/or control of biological functions such as molecular recognition and self-assembling capabilities based on polymer science and physical chemistry, in addition to bioengineering. Recently, to further development of biopolymers with desired functions and/or physical properties, we have been generating function-oriented biopolymers based on machine learning predictions using the functional property data of genetically engineered biopolymers. The high potential of biopolymers has already been proven, and by establishing a strategy to develop biopolymers with excellent material functions as re-evolved based on oriented functions, we hope to develop material chemistry that can contribute to various fields, including the environment, medicine, and energy.

北村先生 写真

<Associate Prof. KITAMURA>
【A historical study of representations and discourses of celebrity in the visual media】
Born at the end of the 19th century, cinema created a completely different kind of celebrity and, as a mass medium, had a profound impact on popular culture. Subsequently, in Japan, television culture gave birth to idols, and as the internet spread throughout society, new platforms emerged, giving birth to YouTubers and Virtual YouTubers. My research mainly explores how celebrities are represented and valued in visual culture from the 20th to the 21st century from the perspectives of both media and gender theory. By historically analyzing the desires celebrities have elicited from the public, I hope to elucidate the government ideologies and gender norms in each period. I would also like to reconstruct the history of Japanese film, not as a history of filmmakers and their movies, but by depicting a history of visual culture, including stars, audiences, and technologies, from multiple perspectives, and by introducing a quantitative approach based on cinemetrics. In parallel to this research, through fieldwork, I will analyze communication between playground equipment and children in parks from the perspective of sociology and media theory, aiming to clarify the spaces and environments in which altruism is generated.

鈴木先生 写真

<Associate Prof. SUZUKI>
【Action research on school reform】
I am engaged in research and practice to realistically create schools that provide better education. This can be described as "action research" on "school reform" for "progressive education". Let me explain these three technical terms. "Progressive education" is an attempt to make schooling centered on the experiences of children and students, whereas schooling in general, since the establishment of the modern education system, has been built around teachers, textbooks, and curriculum. "Progressive education" is a concept that many educators have been striving for worldwide, and has been pursued in practice in different times and places. At the same time, this goes to show that the realization of "progressive education" is fatalistically accompanied by great difficulties. It is thanks to the efforts of our predecessors that "progressive education" exists in today's society. Educational research findings indicate that "progressive education" cannot be created in schools through the efforts of individual teachers, but requires teachers to work together as a community of educational professionals. Therefore, it is important to understand that the realization of "progressive education" requires the reform of schools, places embedded in institutional, policy, and organizational context. I am pursuing "action research", which involves practitioners and researchers working together to reform reality. The key to "action research" is that it recognizes, better than anyone else, that such efforts are not easy to accomplish. "Action research" is characterized by its pursuit of real-world reform, while simultaneously theoretically pursuing reforms. I am therefore engaged in "action research" that envisions the provision of better education in the tradition of "progressive education", pursues such progressive education by reforming schools, a complex place where policy and practice intersect, and creates progressive education through concrete "school reform" in collaboration with teachers faced with reality.

Comment

<Associate Prof. SAWADA>

It is a great honor to be selected as a recipient of the STAR grant, and I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the contributors and selection committee members at Tokyo Institute of Technology. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all the professors and collaborators who have supported me, as well as to the laboratory members who are working hard on our research. This support will encourage us to take on new challenges, and we will work hard to produce even better results.

<Associate Prof. KITAMURA>

I am deeply honored to be selected as a recipient of the Support for Tokyo Tech Advanced Researchers (STAR) award and wish to express my sincere gratitude to the donors to the Tokyo Institute of Technology Fund. The above-mentioned research projects explore largely unknown fields, and I could not proceed without such generous support. My research is not limited to film studies, but also has a broad impact on adjacent disciplines. The study of playground equipment and altruism directly benefits society by creating an altruistic environment for children to play and learn. Your support will enable me to further my research.

<Associate Prof. SUZUKI>

I am honored to have been selected for the Support for Tokyo Tech Advanced Researchers (STAR) grant. I am deeply grateful to the donors of the Tokyo Institute of Technology Found, who have created this support. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to those who were involved in the review process. As the first researcher in the humanities and social sciences to receive the STAR grant, I feel a great sense of responsibility given the tradition that the development of research based at Tokyo Tech has led to the development of society, and the tradition that the sharp brilliance of the humanities and social sciences has been demonstrated to society at Tokyo Tech, which focuses on the development of natural sciences. I promise to fulfill my duty so that the development of my research will lead to the development of educational research and the development of a more equitable and democratic society. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to those who have constantly offered their guidance and support.

Grant Ceremony

2022STARshugo Grant Ceremony
(Front row from left:) Associate Prof. Sawada, Associate Prof. Kitamura, Associate Prof. Suzuki
(Back row from left:) President Kazuya Masu, Executive Vice President for Research Osamu Watanabe
<益学長、渡辺理事>
<受賞者>