About iTHES

Interdisciplinary Theoretical Science Research Group (iTHES)

Director’s message

Director's Message

I arrived at RIKEN in 2012, after years of working as an academic researcher, and was immediately struck by how many opportunities RIKEN created for scientists from different research disciplines to come together and collaborate.

While speaking to many of my colleagues in RIKEN, it became clear that here we have great opportunities to address scientific challenges that span different fields. For example, nuclear physicists, biologists and cosmologists all must grapple with ‘multiscale problems’. These arise in complex systems ranging in size from cells to stars, which are governed by distinct physical principles at different levels that only become apparent as one dives deeper into the system. To make such complexity manageable and understand these systems as a whole, scientists need powerful new mathematical methods and modeling strategies—and in many cases, the techniques needed in one field may already be in active use in another.

My fellow team leaders and I conceived of iTHES as a means to facilitate such free exchange, and to give the rising generation of scientists broader exposure to new ideas and theories that might lead them in exciting new directions. These young researchers are already bold and open-minded enough to embrace interdisciplinarity; our role is to bring these minds together through regular symposia and colloquia, and to facilitate opportunities for fruitful chance encounters and discussions.

iTHES is not just a collection of independent theorists who share a grant—our members have a shared belief that interdisciplinary research is critical for producing new ideas. And as our team continues to grow, we are also actively engaging with other leading research centers in Japan and in the world. From these starting points, it is my hope that iTHES will grow to become the hub of a worldwide, interdisciplinary network that promotes ‘brain circulation’ between like-minded centers across Asia, Europe and the Americas. At the same time, this network must not be the goal itself, but rather a means for training a new generation of innovative and creative scientific thinkers.

Tetsuo Hatsuda


Image Credit: © 2014 RIKEN