WPI Makes its AAAS Debut in Vancouver

February 23, 2012

Japan's science ministry and six leading research institutions presented the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) at the Extenal Link2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting held in Vancouver, BC, Canada from February 16 to 20. Over the course of the three-day exhibition during the meeting, representatives from the ministry and WPI centers* engaged a diverse audience of 2,700 at the Japan pavilion -- ranging from scientists to administrators to lawmakers.

The WPI booth showcased the latest advances in a range of research at the six centers, as well as their efforts to create an open environment where scientists of all levels can interact and collaborate across borders and disciplines. One of the big draws turned out to be the WPI tote bags, which disappeared by the end of the second exhibition day.

"To what extent is it necessary to speak Japanese?" asked a graduate student, expressing his interest in working at a Japanese university. "It sounds easy enough to get by as long as you are in a lab. I'm curious what the social life is like (without being able to speak Japanese)," said another visitor, noting that English is the official language across all WPI centers.

"We sure are wild about [Japan's participation in the meeting]. This is truly a global scientific conference now with representation from 60 different countries, and we have strong representation this year from Japanese scientists and engineers," said AAAS Office of Public Programs Director Ginger Pinholster in an interview. When asked if she would like to see more active involvement from Japan, she said: "Absolutely. The journal Science publishes about 900 research articles a year. Most of them have international coauthors, and about 45 percent have non-U.S. lead authors. So it is critical to involve all the brain power we can amass in solving global problems."

The conference theme of "Flattening the World: Building a Global Knowledge Society" was emphasized by AAAS President Extenal LinkNina Fedoroff (photo) in Extenal Linka recent Science editorial. "The extraordinary value of knowledge is, of course, that there are no limits to its growth or the value it can generate. Going beyond local benefit, it is increasingly important to create a global knowledge society."

The annual meeting this year -- marking its 178th anniversary -- attracted about 11,000 attendees, well surpassing the usual turnout. About 6,000 of these were parents and children visiting the Family Science Days, and about 700 were reporters and public information officers from across the globe. Notable speakers at recent meetings include: Google CEO Larry Page (2007), U.S. NIH Director Francis Collins (2001), then U.S. President Bill Clinton (1998), Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates (1997), and numerous Nobel laureates. The next annual meeting will be held in Boston, MA from February 14 to 18, 2013.

by Yutaka Iijima

*WPI centers:


The venue: Vancouver Convention Centre (West Building)

The WPI booth at the Japan pavilion, which was organized by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)

Representatives from the ministry and WPI centers (from left): Yutaka Iijima (iCeMS, Kyoto U), Masako Matsuura (I²CNER, Kyushu U), Jun Sakanoue (IFReC, Osaka U), Sanae Aitani (I²CNER, Kyushu U) holding a WPI tote bag, Yoshihisa Obayashi (IPMU, U of Tokyo), Mitsuyuki Ueda (MEXT), Susumu Ikeda (AIMR, Tohoku U), Kotaro Takeda (MANA, NIMS), and Kazuo Abe (IPMU, U of Tokyo)

Takuya Iwasaki (far left; Osaka U) and Ayumi Hagusa (third from left; iCeMS, Kyoto U) interacting with visitors to the WPI booth

Cards placed and handed out at the WPI booth

AAAS Office of Public Programs Director Ginger Pinholster (left) and AAAS President Nina Fedoroff

A wide array of exhibitors, ranging from government organizations to universities to corporations, hosting booths

Children -- and their parents alike -- engaging in hands-on demonstrations at the Familiy Science Days

A scene from the symposium "Extenal LinkUnmuzzling Government Scientists: How to Re-open the Discourse"

A scene from the workshop "Extenal LinkSharing Science: Presenting Yourself and Your Work"

The plenary discussion "Extenal LinkScience is Not Enough" drew an audience of over 1,400

A scene from the poster sessions

WPI booth content

[Video*] WPI in Brief, Part 1/2: Intro, AIMR, MANA, IPMU


[Video*] WPI in Brief, Part 2/2: iCeMS, IFReC, I²CNER



(PDF: 3.4MB)
Top 1% paper productivity
(PDF: 0.4MB)
AIMR, Tohoku U
(PDF: 2.4MB)
(PDF: 1.6MB)
IPMU, The U of Tokyo
(PDF: 18.2MB)
iCeMS, Kyoto U
(PDF: 3.7MB)
IFReC, Osaka U
(PDF: 3.1MB)
I²CNER, Kyushu U
(PDF: 3.7MB)

Ralated links

About Extenal LinkWPI

Launched in 2007 by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the WPI aims to attain the highest levels possible for scientific research environments at six designated centers. This bid to achieve "global visibility", including attracting the world's best brains, also seeks to create a new model for Japanese academia, imparting greater autonomy to each institution in order to spark transformations in leadership, administration, and operation.

About Extenal LinkAAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) -- founded in 1848 and based in Washington, DC and Cambridge, UK -- is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.

*WPI in Brief video production team:

Ayumi HAGUSA (iCeMS)
Yutaka IIJIMA (iCeMS)
David KORNHAUSER, narration (iCeMS)
Jun SAKANOUE, producer (IFReC)
Takuya IWASAKI, planning/camera/editing (Osaka University)
Masataka ANDO (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)
Mitsuyuki UEDA (WPI Program Supervisor, MEXT, Japan)