Related Programs

The TOMODACHI STEM @ Rice team has extensive prior experience in the development and management of international education and research experience programs for U.S. and Japanese science and engineering students.  The programs outlined below have provided our team with a solid foundation in the development and administration of international research experience programs for both U.S. and Japanese students.

The Nakatani RIES: Research & International Experiences for U.S. & Japanese Students connects undergraduates with the best of science & engineering research in the U.S. or Japan.

  • U.S. Fellows can apply to spend up to 12 weeks in Japan in summer
  • Japanese Fellows can apply to conduct research at Rice University from August – September.
  • The program is open to both male and female students.

While abroad, fellows participate in language, cultural, and communication training and conduct a hands-on research internship in a leading science or engineering research host laboratory.  The program serves as a catalyst for U.S. & Japanese students interested in future graduate study and research and contributes to the development of a generation of globally-engaged scientists & engineers who have the technical and cultural skills to contribute to vibrant international research collaborations in the future.

In 2016, 8 Japanese students and 14 U.S. students participated in the program. Application for the 2017 program will be accepted starting in November 2016 with applications due in January, for U.S. students, and February, for Japanese students.

The Nakatani RIES Program is organized by the Nakatani Foundation and is implemented by the Prof. Junichiro Kono and his team in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rice University.


NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates

From 2006 – 2015 Prof. Junichiro Kono, Sarah Phillips, and Dr. Cheryl Matherly directed the NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.   This program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Partnership for International Research and Education Program and sought to foster research and international engagement among young undergraduate students in the U.S.

Each summer, NanoJapan sent between 12 – 16 U.S. freshman and sophomore undergraduates to Japan for a twelve week program focused on nanoscale science  in terahertz (THz) spectroscopy, nanophotonics, and ultrafast optics. Ultimately, the program aimed to increase the number of U.S. students who chose to pursue graduate study in related fields, while cultivating a generation of globally aware engineers and scientists who are prepared for international research collaboration.

Our program design, combining the best aspects of a traditional study abroad experience with intensive nanoscale science research, has been nationally recognized as an innovative and effective model for the engagement of STEM students in international programs. In 2012, NanoJapan was profiled in a National Academy of Engineering Report on “Infusing Real World Experience into Engineering Education” (see pg. 33) and in 2008 NanoJapan received the IIE Heiskell Award as a ‘Best Practice in Study Abroad’ for expanding opportunities for STEM students.

Since 2006, 144 students participated, representing 49 universities; including 3 community colleges and a number of HBCUs and Hispanic-serving Institutions.  NanoJapan was particularly successful with recruiting groups underrepresented in STEM fields; 35.4% of participants were women, and 16.8% represented diverse ethnic groups in STEM fields (not Asian or Caucasian). Of the 109 NanoJapan alumni who have completed their undergraduate degree, 64.2% are pursuing or have received a graduate degree in a STEM field; representing 38 domestic and 5 international graduate institutions or programs.  NanoJapan alumni have also been highly competitive for major national and international fellowships and scholarships and 26.9% of our alumni have participated in further international experiences at both the undergraduate and graduate level.


2011 Reverse NanoJapan Participants at a party hosted by the Consul-General of Japan

2011 Reverse NanoJapan
When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, our NanoJapan team at Rice University worked with the NSF, our partners in Japan, and our colleagues at Rice University to design a new, reverse program, in just one-month’s time.  The goal of the program was to make Rice’s unique research facilities available to the Japanese students whose research had been suspended while ensuring that the U.S. students would still be involved in an international research collaboration that was the hallmark of the NanoJapan Program.

With supplemental funding from the NSF, we were able to invite 25 Japanese students to come to Rice University and work side-by-side with the 14 American NanoJapan students from late-May to early August (approximately 10 weeks).  The response to this revised program was exceptional, with the 25 Japanese undergraduate and graduate students being recruited to participate in just one month’s time. The 39 U.S. and Japanese students were assigned projects in research labs across Rice campus, including in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Chemical & Bimolecular Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, and Chemistry. Students were assigned to labs in teams of U.S. and Japanese students and advised by Rice professors under the direct day-to-day mentorship of a graduate student mentor.  At the end of the summer, both the Japanese and U.S. students presented topical research posters on their summer experience at the Rice Quantum Institute’s Summer Research Colloquium.

In addition to research, students also participated in communication skills workshops, career workshops, and a weekly seminar series designed to introduce them to emerging areas of research collaboration and educational exchange between the U.S. and Japan.  The U.S. and Japanese students were housed together in the Rice Graduate Apartments and jointly participated in cultural programming and activities hosted by various Rice University offices, the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston, the Japan Association of Greater Houston, and a number of other community organizations.

For more on the 2011 Reverse NanoJapan see the links below.


NanoREIS students from Japan with Rice University NanoJapan Alumni

NanoREIS students from Japan with Rice University NanoJapan Alumni

Rice University NanoREIS: Research Experiences for International Students Program

In addition to developing programs for undergraduate students, Prof. Kono and his team at Rice University have also created pathways for graduate students from Japan and other countries worldwide to come to Rice for a short-term, non-credit bearing research experience.  The NanoREIS: Research Experiences for International Students Program began in 2008 with 5 students from Hokkaido University and has, to date, brought more than 90 students from universities worldwide to the Rice for short-term research in a wide array of science and engineering fields.

With funding from their home university, or personal sources, international graduate students in science & engineering may apply to conduct a research internship within Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering or Wiess School of Natural Sciences.  Prof. Kono matches students with host labs and projects based on their academic background and research interests, with many students conduct research to advance their thesis or dissertation research.  Our administrative team coordinates the application and placement process, collaborates with the Office of International Students and Scholars to support the student’s visa application, and assists the student in locating off-campus housing options. Dates of internships vary and are dependent on host lab availability.

If you are a graduate student in science & engineering from a non-U.S. institution who has funding from your home university (or personal sources) and you would like more information on applying to conduct a short-term research internship at Rice University please email the following information to Prof. Junichiro Kono at

  • 1 page statement of interest, in English, outlining why you wish to conduct a short-term research experience at Rice University, your preferred host lab/s, and preferred start and end dates.
  • Copy of your current Resume or CV (in English).
  • Proof of financial support from either your home university or personal sources in the amount of at $2,000 per month for the duration of your internship.
  • Proof of English Language Competency
    • TOEFL Score (minimum score 600 paper-based/250 computer-based/90 internet-based)
    • IELTS (minimum score of 7)
    • or, if English test scores or not available, you will be required to pass an English Language Interview with Rice’s Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication and pay the interview fee; currently set at $30.  If you do not pass this interview you cannot be accepted into the program.

Applications must be submitted to Rice University at least four months prior to your preferred start date. All international visiting graduate research interns are required to apply for a J-1 visa to come to the U.S.  You cannot use the a visa waiver or exemption program for a research internship at Rice.  For more information see the Rice Office of International Students & Scholars website on J-1 EV visas.

Program acceptance and internships dates are dependent upon host lab availability. If selected, you will be responsible for paying all passport, visa application and SEVIS fees and for payment of a $300 Rice University administrative fee. If selected, students are responsible for payment of all housing, living, and travel costs. No funding is provided or available from Rice University.

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