JSPS Quarterly
No.24 2008 Summer Topics

Fourth Award of JSPS Prize

Third Award of JSPS PrizeOn 3 March, a ceremony was held to award the fourth JSPS Prize. Selected were 23 talented young researchers with excellent records of scientific inquiry and exceptional promise to be trailblazers of scientific research in Japan. The ceremony for the FY2007 Prize was held at the Japan Academy in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino.

Selection of JSPS Prize Awardees

JSPS sent out requests for Prize nominees to 3,121 Japanese research institutions and academic societies, from which it received 257 nominations in June. Adding the carryover nominees from the prior year, 415 researchers were screened by the staff of JSPS's Research Center for Science Systems, directed by Dr. Yoji Totsuka, special university professor emeritus, the University of Tokyo. Based on the results, the JSPS Prize Selection Committee, chaired by Dr. Leo Esaki (chairman of the Science and Technology Promotion Foundation of Ibaraki and president of Yokohama College of Pharmacy) and comprising 13 members, made the final decision on the 23 awardees.

Award Ceremony

The ceremony for awarding the JSPS Prize was held in conjunction with the awarding of the Japan Academy Medal. At the ceremony on 3 March, JSPS president Prof. Motoyuki Ono offered an opening message, followed by a report on the selection process from Dr. Esaki. Prof. Ono presented the 23 recipients with a certificate of merit, a medal and a purse of ¥1.1 million.

A ceremony was, then, held to confer the Japan Academy Medal on five of the JSPS Prize recipients. First, Japan Academy president Prof. Masaaki Kubo delivered welcoming remarks, after which Dr. Takashi Negishi, chairman of the Academy's selection committee, explained the vetting process. Then, Prof. Kubo presented the medal and a commemorative gift to each of the awardees.

Prince Akishino offered remarks, followed by Mr. Masami Zeniya, Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, who read a congratulatory message from the minister. To conclude the meeting, a message of appreciation on behalf of the Prize recipients was delivered by Dr. Taikan Oki, professor, Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo.

After the ceremony, a celebration party was held. Attended by Prince and Princess Akishino, the Prize recipients, their guests, and the ceremony attendees, an atmosphere conducive to pleasant conversation was enjoyed by all.

JSPS Prize

The JSPS Prize was established in FY 2004 with an objective of helping to raise the level of scientific research in Japan to the world's highest standard. It does this by recognizing at an early stage in their careers young researchers rich in both talent and creativity. The Prize is meant to encourage the young recipients in advancing their work.

The Prize is awarded to Japanese researchers and to overseas researchers who have conducted research at a Japanese research institution for five years or longer. They must have published papers or articles in scientific journals and other publications in Japan and/or abroad, and obtained excellent scientific research achievements. As of 1 April of the Prize year, they must be (1) under 45 years of age and (2) have obtained a doctorate degree (or possess an equivalent level of scientific research expertise).

Message by Dr. Leo Esaki, Chair, JSPS Prize Selection Committee

As a representative of the JSPS Prize Selection Committee, I am very pleased to offer a few remarks at this fourth award ceremony for the JSPS Prize.

In April 2007, JSPS sent out a call for Prize nominations to universities, research institutes and academic societies. Program officers of JSPS's Research Center for Science Systems conducted a preliminary screening of the applications received over an approximately 5-month period starting from June. Based on those results, the Prize Committee, comprising 13 members including myself, met on 31 October to select the awardees. Given the many truly outstanding candidates, it was only through a vigorous discussion and rigorous vetting process that we were able to finally choose this year's 23 Prize recipients.

I am delighted to take this opportunity to congratulate this year's awardees and all those who have supported them in their outstanding work.

Let's take a moment to consider what the requisites are for becoming a fully qualified scientific researcher. They are more than just being able to solve given problems. What's more important is acquiring a depth of scientific knowledge that enables one to expand the envelopes of science. This means that one must first possess an inquiring scientific mind, from which wellspring s/he can identify and solve new problems by capturing the essence at their core. Having such an inner mind for science is what I believe to be the quintessential requisite of a true scientific investigator. Borrowing from Latin, the word cogito connotes the beginning of self-inquiry—a mind for deep rational thought. The expression cogito ergo sum is well known in its English translation as "I think therefore I am." Coined by Rene Descartes, it bespeaks the starting point of one's evolution as a cognitive being.

To this year's youthful awardees, I encourage you to continue cultivating your innermost mind for science, while building upon the superb research cornerstones you've already laid. I look forward with great anticipation to the outstanding contributions that each of you will go on to make to both science and global society.

page top

JSPS Quarterly No.24 2008