Greetings from the President

2022.04.01 Update

Kazuhiro Hono

As of April 1, 2022, I have been appointed as the fourth President of the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS). Previously, the presidents of NIMS had been selected from a pool of distinguished scientists with strong management experience from other research institutes. For the first time, a researcher with a major career at NIMS assumes the position of the president. So, I feel that the weight of this responsibility is on me.

When I moved from a university to the National Research Institute for Metals (NRIM), the predecessor of NIMS, in 1995, I was surprised to find many restrictions on collaborating with companies, obtaining external funds, making business trips, hiring post-docs, etc. In 2001, NIMS was incorporated as an independent administrative institution together with the National Institute for Research in Inorganic Materials (NIRIM), and the first president, Professor Teruo Kishi, made major reforms to create an environment in which NIMS researchers can devote themselves to research with a great degree of freedom and discretion. At the same time, the researchers were exposed to a competitive environment with universities and other research institutes, and it became important for individual researchers to be highly esteemed externally. The adoption of MANA (International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics) as a World Premier International Research Center (WPI) program in 2007 was the most symbolic event representing the changes after NIMS became an independent administrative institution. In addition, the International Center for Young Scientists (ICYS) was established, attracting many talented researchers from around the world, some of whom have now become members of the permanent research staff at NIMS. Under the leadership of the second President, Professor Sukekatsu Ushioda, the internationalization of NIMS was further promoted, and the global presence of NIMS in the field of materials science has increased.

Under the leadership of the third President, Professor Kazuhito Hashimoto, who took office in 2016, NIMS was transformed into one of three Designated National Research and Development Institutes and its mission was defined to make contributions to the society by creating world-class research achievements based on national strategies. In addition to the mission-oriented research, President Hashimoto strongly supported bottom-up fundamental research that is proposed based on individuals’ free ideas, and as an organizational effort, the energy and environmental materials and data-driven research was strongly supported. Other new measures included the establishment of Materials Open Platform (MOP) in various fields of materials engineering, the promotion of the exchange of university faculty and graduate students, and the support to start-up companies. I have participated in the management of NIMS for the past four years under the leadership of former President Hashimoto, and I will do my best to continue working on these measures.

Another important issue that I will tackle as the fourth President of NIMS is to recruit excellent researchers to strengthen the global competitiveness of NIMS in the materials science field even further. According to the number of citations of papers in the field of materials science, NIMS has maintained the top position in Japan since 2012, but its global rankings has been declining year by year. This is a common trend not only in materials science but in general in Japanese science and technology, but for Japan, which has strong materials industry, the decline in the global position of fundamental research in materials science is a worrisome issue. NIMS is committed to creating an excellent research environment where scientists can devote themselves to research, so we have been able to attract excellent people to improve our international competitiveness in the field of materials science. We are eager to discover novel materials and develop practical materials that will change the world and to determine the ways to contribute in strategic areas such as carbon neutrality, quantum materials, and wellbeing, and I will steer NIMS to promote fundamental research that will contribute to Japan's industrial competitiveness.

Your continued understanding and support will be greatly appreciated.

Kazuhiro Hono