Prizes & Awards

Five scientists receive the MEXT Prize for Young Scientists 2012

  • School of Science Newsletter Editorial Committee

Five scientists at the School have been awarded the MEXT* Prize for Young Scientists 2012 in the science and technology field. The Prize is awarded to young scientists with advanced research and development skills who realize notable achievements in science and technology.

Mitsutomo Abe, an associate professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, received the prize for his "research on the florigen-mediated mechanism of flowering in higher plants." Using Arabidopsis mutants, he studied the mechanism of plants blooming at an appropriate time. Consequently, he found the molecular mechanism in which florigen (flowering hormone) functions.

Masahiro Ikoma, an associate professor at the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, was awarded the prize for his "research on the origins and internal structures of giant planets." He is the first person in this field to establish a theory that not only stands harmoniously with the current internal structures of Jupiter and Saturn, but also explains the diversity of the giant planets outside the solar system. This is a model that shows that a solid planetary embryo explosively scoops up surrounding gas by using gravity when it reaches a quantity of matter that is more than a certain threshold value.

Masamitsu Sato, a research associate at the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, was awarded the prize for his "research on the controlling mechanism of microtubules in cell division." He clarified the fact that protein Alp7 is a crucial protein for the formation of cell skeletons called microtubule, and that the cellular transport of the protein between the cytoplasm and the nucleus dramatically reorganize the cell skeletons.

Tomoya Tsukazaki, a research associate at the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, received the prize for his "research on the structure and function of Sec protein translocation machinery in cells." In order to elucidate the details in the molecular mechanism of the protein transport across the membrane, which is one of the basic life phenomena that can be seen in all living organisms, he performed, at the atom resolution level, an X-ray crystal structural and functional analysis of all Sec protein that is involved in behaviors. As a result, he found the protein's conformational change and function, and suggested a new molecular mechanism of the protein translocation driven by the Sec machinery.

Hiroko Tokoro, a project research associate at the Department of Chemistry, received the prize for her "research on material creation that indicates a novel phase transition phenomenon." From a theoretical perspective, she chemically synthesized the phase transition materials that have anomalous bistability. Consequently, she discovered a series of original novel phenomena in rubidium/manganese/iron Prussian blue analog/etc. such as a photoinduced phase collapse, a high-speed photomagnetism, and a photo-reversible switching between ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism.

Mitsutomo Abe (Associate Professor)
Masahiro Ikoma (Associate Professor)
Masamitsu Sato (Research Associate)
Tomoya Tsukazaki (Research Associate)
Hiroko Tokoro (Project Research Associate)

*MEXT: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology