The Next Generation of Physics, Spun from Universality and Emergence Developing Independent Researchers to Explore New Frontiers

Kyoto University Physics, the Global COE Program

As one of the Global Centers of Excellence (GCOE), funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), our program is managed by the members of the Division of Physics and Astronomy at Kyoto University. This organization includes faculty members at the Kwasan and Hida Observatories, the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Institute for Chemical Research, and the Research Center for Low Temperature and Materials Sciences, who have joint appointments with the Division of Physics and Astronomy. The GCOE organization consists of about 120 faculty members and about 150 doctor-course students.

Located in the city of the heart of Japanese traditional culture, the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics hosts numerous international conferences and workshops. In addition, our division acts as centers for a number of large-scale international research projects and collaborations, with the activities of its members covering vast areas of physics. With an environment and tradition of this kind, we aim to strengthen our roles of transmitting cutting edge physics worldwide.

What is the philosophy behind “Spun from Universality and Emergence” ?

The natural world to whose investigation we are dedicated consists of phenomena on unfathomably varying scales from elementary particles and atomic nuclei to the macroscopic world of living organisms and our earth to the great variety of phenomena and physical laws that appear as qualitatively differing strata of nature. Corresponding to these individual strata there are separate fields of research, each possessing its own sets of concepts and theories.

In this Global COE, we seek to unite these seemingly independent realms by uncovering the fundamental universality extending across their boundaries, while searching for novel and diverse emergent phenomena that could not be predicted by deduction from such laws alone. The objective of the proposed GCOE is to make progress toward the construction of the next generation of physics, spun from universality and emergence, while developing independent-minded researchers who will be capable of opening new frontiers in the study of natural phenomena.

The logo

Logo-Ensou The philosophy of our Global COE is represented by the diagram based on “ENSO” (The Circular Phase), a figure drawn in Zen calligraphy. The original calligraphy is by the Zen master Sesso Oda of Daitoku-ji Temple in Kyoto. It represents the idea that seemingly empty space actually contains everything. This idea is similar to that of Ouroboros, an ancient Western image depicting a snake swallowing its own tail, and thereby constantly creating itself in the form of a circle.

Researcher Development Programsto Explore New Frontiers

The objective of our educational program is to foster innovative researchers with the independence needed to open new scientific frontiers. More specifically, we do not wish for our young members to be satisfied with conducting research that simply advances existing fields. Rather, we wish to install in them the desire and provide for them the tools needed to develop new fields that both connect and transcend the existing fields of study. We believe that this type of training will be most beneficial not only for those people who become professional physicists but also for those who choose other careers. Such nurturing can be realized only within a stimulating, active atmosphere of education and research that values free and independent thinking above all else. Of course, it is necessary to help students improve their basic scholastic ability, knowledge and technical skills, but while doing this, it is also necessary to create for them an atmosphere that will broaden the scope of their scientific understanding and inquiry. With these goals, we will institute the following Researcher Development Programs.

Bilateral International Exchange Program (BIEP)

This is a new educational/research program in which we will bilaterally exchange graduate students and young researchers with foreign institutions for up to three months. This program will create within the Kyoto campus a highly international atmosphere of education and research in physics, while providing opportunities for Kyoto students to experience research atmosphere abroad.

Teaching-Research Assistant (TRA) System

As an adaptive program to our graduate school education we have created the original “TRA” system, in which TA assignment is compulsory and further RA assignment is combined. The purposes of this system are to give students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the subject matter through teaching experience and, at the same time, to provide them with financial basis so that they can focus on research, without the need for outside employment. Communication with undergraduate students as a TA will also help foster individual growth and will provide opportunity with high social perception.

Restructuring Academic Program

To encourage transfer of talented graduate students from both domestic and overseas universities, we will restructure our academic program. Taking some lectures that are outside the students’ field of specialty will be made compulsory. To foster independent researchers with wide scope, lectures on technological, educational, and other different disciplines will also be offered. To strengthen students’ ability of scientific English, we will hire a physicist who is a native speaker of English to offer courses for writing scientific papers and for presenting and discussing science.

Career Support

We will coordinate with Kyoto University Career Support Center and Kyoto Prefectural as well as Municipal Education Boards to assist young researchers for their career planning.

Research ProgramsBuilding the Next Generation of Physics

With regard to research, we will exploit the fact that the fields of study of our members cover essentially all of modern-day physics. With this distinctive strength, we will attempt to push the frontiers in each of these fields. In so doing, it will be an explicit priority to seek yet undiscovered types of emergent phenomena and to look for correspondences between and relations among distinct fields, with the ultimate goal of integrating such fields within more general frameworks. The following are the specific topics of emphasis in our GCOE program.

Forefront Research Programs

FR (a) From neutrino oscillation to a grand unification theory
FR (b) New forms of quark many-body systems
FR (c) Search for extreme and distant astronomical objects and the construction of a new picture of the universe
FR (d) The physics of new quantum condensate phases

Interdisciplinary Research Programs

IR (e) Dynamics of non-equilibrium, open systems (from cosmological plasmas to living systems)
IR (f) The science of quantum beam imaging (using the technology of elementary particle experiments to probe matter and living systems)
IR (g) Application of atoms to investigating quantum information and aspects of fundamental physics (integrating optical and atomic experiments with elementary particle symmetry theories)
IR (h) Special Research Units with the aim of pioneering new fields.

Special Research Unist

We will create special research units, with the explicit purpose of expanding frontiers, especially within new interdisciplinary fields, and integrate traditionally separate areas of study. Specifically, several associate and assistant professors will be hired for five-year appointments through an international call for applications.

Administrative System

The Lead group and the Head Administrative Committee

Under the direction of the Lead Group (composed of the leader and the five sub-leaders), the Head Administrative Committee (consisting of the members of the Lead Group and the chairs of the 13 subcommittees) will hold biweekly meetings to put together the detailed plans of action needed to realize the goals of the GCOE. The Head Administrative Committee will collaborate with the Division of Physics and Astronomy for effective administration.


The subcommittees are organized so as to realize the most effective functioning of the GCOE. These subcommittees will be responsible for directly overseeing the execution of the center’s various activities and budget planning. Each subcommittee is composed of several faculty members from different range of fields, who are proactively involved in the GCOE administration.


Management relation

Administrative Subcommittees
1. Accounting Subcommittee
2. Evaluation Subcommittee
Educational Subcommittee
3. BIEP Subcommittee
4. TRA Subcommittee
5. Curriculum Subcommittee
6. Career Support Subcommittee
Research Subcommittees
7. International Conference and International Visiting Scholar Subcommittee
8. Domestic Visiting Scholar Subcommittee
9. Postdoctor Subcommittee
10. Research Support Subcommittee
Special Research Unit
11. Special Research Unit Subcommittee
Public Relations
12. Outreach Subcommittee
13. Homepage Subcommittee