Research is the lifeblood of any academic department. The College of Biology has over 80 research active academic staff, and is supported by three research centers; the Sugadaira Montane Research Center; the Shimoda Marine Research center; and the Gene Research Center.
Sugadaira Research Center
The Sugadaira Research Center is one of the leading highland field study and education centers in Japan. The Sugadaira plateau in Nagano Prefecture is located 1300 meters above sea level. The center has an average annual temperature of 6.6°C, with mid-winter temperatures as low as minus 25°C. There are many rare plant species and a wide variety of animal species found at Sugadaira, many of which are not found elsewhere. The center’s arboretum contains over 200 species of trees.
In winter, the center runs an animal tracking course which is popular with both Japanese and international students. In the summer, the course runs practical classes in plant and animal taxonomy.
The center boasts a range of advanced facilities, such as a weather station, photosynthesis and respiration gas exchange equipment, transmission and scanning electron microscopes and DNA sequencing equipment.
The facility is also shared for Agro-biological and Geoscience training courses, and is used by more than a dozen research students, but also more generally it is an education center with many schools visiting the center.
Shimoda Marine Research Center
Shimoda Marine Research Center is located at the southeast tip of the Izu peninsula and faces Oura bay, a fork of Shimoda bay. Facing the Pacific Ocean, the center is located in a picturesque environment. Just outside the center is a sandy beach, while rocky and boulder shore areas are also close, providing a wide range of environments. The rock reef provides a suitable habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms.
Various research fields are being pursued at Shimoda, including; Invertebrate taxonomy, Developmental Biology of ascidians, Phycology and Marine Animal Ecology. Over 6000 people visit the Shimoda center annually, and this facility includes research buildings, an aquarium, laboratories, and dormitories. Additionally, the center has two research vessels (18t and 0.5t), as well as facilities for DNA sequencing, electrophoresis, and electron and light microscopy.
Shimoda is the best equipped and most advanced such facility in Japan. Five faculty members, along with graduate researchers and students stay at this facility on a permanent basis, providing practical training in marine biology.
Gene Research Center
Genetic research and analysis is absolutely imperative to a great deal of research in biology nowadays. Gene research requires various advanced equipment and facilities for recombinant DNA experiments. The Gene Research Center is one of Japan’s leading institutes, equipped with advanced facilities and specialized for DNA research, including state-of-the-art automated DNA base sequencing equipment, a mass spectrometer, and laser confocal microscopes.
Students will not use this facility until their third year for specialized experiments, but this facility is important in supporting undergraduate teaching, even at lower levels. The Gene Research Center holds training courses for overseas researchers and domestic science teachers.