A World-class InstituteWith centers and institutes spread out across the country, RIKEN is Japan's flagship research institution devoted to basic and applied research.
Over 2,500 papers by RIKEN researchers are published every year in reputable scientific and technical journals, covering topics ranging across a broad spectrum of disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, medical science, and engineering. Interdisciplinary collaboration with research institutes in Japan and abroad not only produces technological breakthroughs, but also fosters an environment within which young, internationally-competitive researchers are able to thrive.
In Japan, this environment has earned RIKEN an unparalleled reputation for scientific excellence.
A well-kept secret
And yet, nearly a century since it was founded, RIKEN remains to this day a mystery to the rest of the world. While boasting a record of scientific achievements on par with the world's premier research institutions, RIKEN as a whole, despite its size and scope, is little-known outside of Japan. To scientists, it is recognized through its many research institutes and centers, which are familiar to researchers within specific fields, and as a name appearing frequently at the top of publications. To the wider public outside of Japan, it has yet to be discovered.
RIKEN is indeed one of Japan's best-kept secrets. You would think that it would be difficult to hide an institution of this size: five campuses and 13 research centers, over 350 laboratories, one of the largest synchrotrons in the world (SPring-8) and the world's most advanced supercomputer (the Next-Generation Supercomputer), not to mention laboratories and offices in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Singapore, and in China. RIKEN is a global institution well worthy of a global name, yet shrouded instead in mystery.
One of the reasons for this mystery is RIKEN's rapid rate of growth and transformation. From a researcher population of roughly six hundred in 1995, RIKEN's staff of fixed-term and permanent research personnel has expanded to over 2500 as of 2008. In a period of two years alone, between 1999 and 2001, this population more than doubled. The influx of new researchers over the past several years has contributed to an array of new results and discoveries, one that RIKEN's name recognition has yet to catch up with.
Curiosity knows no borders
Moves are underway, however, to change this situation. In 2003, RIKEN was reorganized into an Independent Administrative Institution (IAI) under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, headed by a new president, nobel laureate Ryoji Noyori. With its new status, RIKEN has been granted greater autonomy, but also greater responsibilities, one of which is to increase its visibility on the global stage and contribute to world society.
A fourfold increase in research staff, a new president at the helm and a mandate to contribute to the world — these are developments that signal a profound long-term change underway at RIKEN. It may not be a household name just yet, but RIKEN is growing fast, and more than ever needs the input of talented young researchers to make that growth meaningful. RIKEN also has a great deal to offer such researchers, with a reputation for excellence and an environment conducive to collaborative interdisciplinary research.
RIKEN is growing not only in numbers, but also in scope. Today more than ever before, RIKEN is a truly international research institution, with over 500 foreign research personnel from more than 50 different countries and regions. This international profile goes hand-in-hand with RIKEN's philosophy, "Curiosity knows no borders", actively promoted through initiatives to support young researchers, collaborative agreements with foreign organizations, and exchange of personnel with foreign universities and institutions. Internship programs such as the Brain Science Institute's Summer Program, as well as the Joint Graduate School Program that RIKEN coordinates with over thirty Japanese universities and more than fifteen overseas universities, offer further opportunities for graduate students and postgraduates to engage in cross-border collaborative study and research.
What you're missing
As any researcher knows, a scientific project is most exciting when it is expanding into new, uncharted territory. This is the stage that RIKEN is at right now. For young researchers and scientists, now is the time to join RIKEN, to get in at ground level and contribute to one of the many initiatives underway. A well-kept secret this big will not stay secret for long.
This website is designed to help you navigate your way through the maze of laboratories, institutes and centers that make up RIKEN today, and possibly find a place for yourself somewhere in one of its many ongoing projects. While there are other sites in English on the web offering information about RIKEN, Life at RIKEN is designed specifically for graduate students and post-doctoral scientists and researchers interested in learning more about what it might be like to work at RIKEN and live in Japan. It is also intended as a practical, hands-on resource for the many foreign scientists who are already researching and working at RIKEN with their families.
This website is a work in progress, and will be undergoing frequent change. We welcome your input and comments. Please send email to info AT riken DOT jp.