Message from the Director of the Center for Natural Sciences
Professor Akihiko Sugai
Director of the Center for Natural Sciences
In addition to seven schools with fifteen departments that Kitasato University possesses as a university specializing in the life science, it has the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) to provide general education to freshmen.
The Center for Natural Sciences, one of the three centers in CLAS, is composed of three Sections: Physics Section, Chemistry Section and Biology Section. It provides educational programs through which the students acquire the basic knowledge of natural sciences and familiarize themselves with the scientific ways of thinking during their first year. In addition to their educational responsibilities, faculty members at the Center for Natural Sciences are also carrying out highly specialized research in various fields, the results of which are then utilized in general education. The center offers not only standard classes and laboratory course classes but also “Supplementary” classes in physics, chemistry and biology. These special classes serve as a bridge that connects studies at high school and those at university and assist freshmen so that they can learn basic natural science without difficulty.
The Physics Section conducts fundamental research in optical coherence tomography (OCT) as a new method for photographing three-dimensional tomographic images of organisms and matter which are optically translucent. The section explores application of this technology to new medical diagnostic equipment in the future. The section also conducts research in new material measurement technology which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves such as millimeter-waves and sub-millimeter-waves, as well as research in ultra high-speed semiconductor devices which are used in that measurement technology. Other research themes include theoretical research for dynamic process in which highly excited molecules are involved, and research in particle physics which use field theory. In terms of education, in view of declining enrollment rates in high school physics courses, the section conducts lectures and laboratory course in physics on contents from a basic level to a 1st-year university level. These educational activities consider the expertise of each school and department.
The Chemistry Section provides freshmen with Classes of Chemistry and Laboratory Courses in Chemistry to develop a foundation and perspective for specialized courses, as well as Supplementary Chemistry Courses which lead students with weak chemistry background rapidly onto advanced levels. First-year experience courses are offered as the First-year Seminars B. Liberal Arts and Sciences Seminar C is also available as an advanced course to fulfill students’ intellectual curiosity.
The section also conducts research in some specialized fields as follows: structural and functional studies of thermophilic Archaeal membrane lipids; new syntheses of heterocyclic compounds which are oriented toward biological activation and analytical functions; syntheses and functional analyses of organic compounds which include heteroatoms; development of compact gas electron diffraction equipment; conformational studies of molecules by using the laser jet spectroscopy technique; development of an information processing system on the molecular level, which combines the theoretical computation ability and information recording ability possessed by DNA; investigations of the electronic structures and reaction mechanism of molecules and clusters; and investigations of the recognition mechanism of biomolecules. The section also develops educational materials for general chemistry.
In order to understand the mechanism of various phenomena in living organisms, we use organisms appropriate for the clarification of each phenomenon in order to conduct analysis from the molecular level to the cellular, tissue and individual levels. Our major research themes are as follows: 1) Research on the structure and function of glycolipids in cell membrane. 2) Research on neural circuits which support memory and learning. 3) Research on the gastrulation during the vertebrate embryogenesis. 4) Research on the extracellular matrix related to the proliferation of volvox, as well as research on related proteins. 5) Research on the acclimation/adaptation mechanisms for photosynthesis and respiration in alpine plants. 6) Research on the mechanism for body color formation in insects. 7) Development of a structural analysis method for biomolecules using a mass spectrometer.
Available Subjects of the Center for Natural Sciences
- Laboratory Course in Physicss
- Laboratory Course in Chemistry
- Laboratory Course in Biology
- Supplementary Physics
- Supplementary Chemistry
- Supplementary Biology
- Laboratory Course in Geology
- Liberal Arts and Sciences Seminar
- First-year seminar