Fostering Young Researchers "FRIS Shoshi Program"
Fostering Young Researchers "FRIS Shoshi Program"
Through the "FRIS Shoshi Program," young researchers selected through an international recruitment are employed as faculty members of the Creative Interdisciplinary Research Division, FRIS, and are supported in many ways to develop new international interdisciplinary research as Principal Investigators (PIs), thereby fostering researchers with advanced research skills for the next generation.
Frontier Researchers for Interdisciplinary Sciences Shoshi Program (FRIS Shoshi Program), Tohoku University
The Frontier Researchers for Interdisciplinary Sciences Shoshi Program (FRIS Shoshi Program), Tohoku University, is a unique university-wide system for fostering young researchers at Tohoku University. This program was originally designed in 2006 as the "Shoshi Program" for fostering young researchers at Tohoku University. The word "Shoshi" comes from the Chinese classic "Mencius" and means "to have a high level of ambition," and was also the philosophy of the former Second Higher School, the predecessor of Tohoku University. After that, this program was taken over by the Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences (FRIS), which was established in 2013, after being transferred to the International Advanced Research and Education Organization and Advanced Fusion Research Laboratory, Tohoku University. This program has developed as a young researcher fostering program with features such as international recruitment of fixed-term assistant professors for all fields, independent research environments, mentoring system, interdisciplinary researcher exchange, and career path support in cooperation with all university departments. More than 100 assistant professors have been appointed through this program, and more than 50 of them are actively working in higher education and research institutions in Japan and abroad including Tohoku University. The "Shoshi Program" has been renamed the "FRIS Shoshi Program" since FY2023, by adding "interdisciplinarity," which is one of the characteristics of the program.
Initiatives in the "FRIS Shoshi Program"
International Recruitment of Fixed-Term Assistant Professors from All Research Areas
Every year, the Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (FRIS) recruits young researchers from all research areas as assistant professors (about 7 positions, 5-year term) of the Creative Interdisciplinary Research Division. Successful applicants will be required to promote world-class interdisciplinary research by integrating various fields as a principal investigator (PI) in six research categories (1. Material and Energy, 2. Life and Environment, 3. Information and System, 4. Device and Technology, 5. Human and Society, 6. Advanced Basic Science), with the ambition to pioneer new academic fields, and actively collaborate with domestic and international researchers and research institutions.
Independent Research Environment/Promoting World-Class Research
The following research funding will be provided.
- A total of 11 million yen will be provided as basic research expenses over five years (2.5 million yen per year for the first three years, 2 million yen for the fourth year, and 1.5 million yen for the fifth year; flexible execution is possible through carryover).
- Expenses for overseas travel for presentations at international conferences and collaborative research, expenses for collaborative research with researchers in different fields, expenses for organizing international conferences, and expenses for publishing papers when excellent results are published in open-access journals, will be provided upon review.
In addition to the above, successful applicants are expected to actively aim to obtain external competitive funds such as Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research.
The purpose of this program is to foster internationally active young researchers and form networks for international interdisciplinary research. By supporting the execution of bilateral international collaborative research with overseas research institutions, FRIS aims to improve the activities of each research group regarding international research and foster young researchers who will lead the next generation of interdisciplinary science research.
- Targeting those who are engaged in or planning to engage in joint research with overseas research institutions, the program supports dispatch expenses to overseas universities and research institutes.
- Supports travel expenses for young researchers and target students who are planning to present at international conferences and other overseas research gatherings.
The purpose of this program is to support publication costs when an assistant professor belonging to the Creative Interdisciplinary Research Division publishes excellent results in a high-impact open access journal.
FRIS is developing FRIS CoRE (Cooperative Research Environment), a new form of “start-up support” proposed by young researchers at FRIS to promote interdisciplinary fusion and explore the frontiers of knowledge, by providing under-one-roof access to basic research facilities in different fields (a research environment that enables a series of daily experiments and discussions). Currently, the experimental facilities are for life science, chemistry, and engineering, but in the future, FRIS CoRE will expand to a collaborative environment that includes researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The FRIS CoRE will also provide facilities in fields different from the mentor's expertise. Please visit the following website for the status of the FRIS CoRE.
FRIS CoRE: https://www.fris.tohoku.ac.jp/fris_core/en/
Mentor System/PI Fostering Support
Fostering young researchers at FRIS is conducted as a university-wide effort, in close cooperation and collaboration with the university's graduate schools, research institutes, and other relevant organizations. Young researchers in the Creative Interdisciplinary Research Division are assigned professors or associate professors from Tohoku University as mentors, who provide various research support, including access to research space and facilities. Each young researcher is, however, guaranteed an independent research environment. They are expected to manage their own budgets and research projects in order to develop their PI skills and achieve excellent research results. Furthermore, at FRIS, the mentors, their department heads, and related department heads are kept informed of the research activities of each young researcher. The possibility of employment in each department is also explored, to support young researchers in obtaining stable positions.
Exchange of Researchers in Different Fields/Promoting Interdisciplinary Research
■ Hub Meeting
Once a month, all FRIS members gather for a unique research presentation seminar aimed at discovering the seeds of breakthroughs through cross-disciplinary discussions. Fellows and relevant members of the Tohoku Initiative for Fostering Global Researchers for Interdisciplinary Sciences (TI-FRIS), researchers from departments and institutes within the university, and students from the Division for Interdisciplinary Advanced Research and Education (DIARE) also participate. Since 2020, the meetings have been held in a hybrid format, using online tools for both on-site and online participation.
■ FRIS Retreat
Once a year, all FRIS members and TI-FRIS Fellows meet for a research meeting in a retreat format, aimed at promoting interdisciplinary exchanges. By engaging in free discussions in a different environment from the usual university setting, new discoveries can be expected.
■ Joint Interdisciplinary Research Seminar
About once a month, FRIS holds a joint interdisciplinary research seminar with doctoral and master's students from DIARE, covering all fields. In summer, a large-scale poster session, the FRIS/DIARE Joint Workshop, is held with about 150 participants.
■ Various Research Exchange Activities
FRIS supports young researchers with independently planning seminars and workshops. FRIS also offers lectures by young researchers in an omnibus format, as part of Tohoku University's educational programs.
The Tohoku Initiative for Fostering Global Researchers for Interdisciplinary Sciences (TI-FRIS) is a program that aims to establish and demonstrate the effectiveness of a new researcher development program covering the entire Tohoku region to foster world-class researchers with interdisciplinarity, internationality, and sociability. Launched in 2020 in the "Strategic Professional Development Program for Young Researchers" of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and led by Tohoku University, the Initiative has formed a consortium with Hirosaki University, Iwate University, Akita University, Yamagata University, Fukushima University, and Miyagi University of Education. Based on the activities of FRIS and in partnership with cooperating research institutions and companies in Japan and abroad, TI-FRIS Fellows, who are young researchers selected from participating universities, are actively participating in the program. FRIS members engage in dynamic exchanges with TI-FRIS Fellows.
A two-year grant to promote interdisciplinary research activities by young researchers affiliated with FRIS. This program is intended to meet the diverse needs of these researchers.
DIARE, a division of the Tohoku University Institute for Advanced Research, is a graduate education program that aims to practically develop talents who will shoulder the next generation of academia by integrating education and research. Approximately 100 graduate students selected from the University are enrolled, and they are advancing their research in new interdisciplinary fields while receiving various support. Assistant professors at FRIS work with graduate students at DIARE to plan and execute various seminars and symposiums, promoting interdisciplinary exchange with graduate students through research and education.
Tenure Track System at FRIS
Fixed-term assistant professors employed at FRIS undergo a tenure review between the third and fifth year of their employment as tenure-track faculty members. Faculty members who pass the tenure review become tenured assistant professors. In addition, faculty members who pass the tenure review and the promotion review for a fixed-term associate professor position may become fixed-term associate professors if they so desire. If they are not appointed as tenured faculty members, they will be employed as FRIS assistant professors for up to an additional two years.
In collaboration with mentor departments, etc., FRIS inquires the heads of departments, etc. within the University about the possibility of employing FRIS faculty members every year after the 3rd year of their employment. This provides organizational support from the University for obtaining stable positions.