Activities of Natural Science Cluster

The Natural Science Cluster of Kochi University aims to promote researches targeting a variety of naturally occurring events. The scope is ranging from the marine floor of oceans to the space in a vertical direction and from local areas in Shikoku Island to East Asia and Africa through Pan Pacific areas in a horizontal direction.

 

Activities of Departments

Science Department

Science Department covers research areas of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and earth science, and aims to clarify laws of nature using theoretical and experimental techniques. The department also covers information science, applied chemistry, molecular biology and disaster science, and focuses on international academic researches and regional issues, in a boundary of basic and applied sciences.

Agriculture Department

Agriculture Department is on fundamental and comprehensive fields of research including subtropical agriculture, forest science, aquaculture, bioresource science, agricultural engineering etc., and contribute positively from a view point of conservation of the global environment and food production, environment respecting and sustainable agricultural production, forest growth-control and recycling of resources, development of a novel regional model based on “Environment –Friendly Society”, production and utilization of sustainable and recyclable marine resources, safety in foods and food processing and application of health-promoting foods, land-soil and life environment conservation, irrigation engineering, rural resource management, international cooperation in agriculture, forestry and fishery.

 

Project

Activities of Marine Science

Many factors characterizing climate, culture, industry, and natural environment of Kochi prefecture originate from the Pacific Ocean. For the members belonging to the Natural Science Cluster, Kochi University, marine science occupies a very important position and is sometimes mandatory to the regional society. Research fields of great interest and importance may include modes and functions of a wide variety of marine lives, generation and exploitation of marine resource, and oceanic environment affecting on terrestrial lives. The Natural Science Cluster, Kochi University has organized “Marine Science” subproject to study rich boon from the ocean, complex system inside the body of marine lives, and potential danger inherent to the ocean. We are dealing with individual theme such as biodiversity in Kochi prefecture, structure, function, and evolution of genes of interest in marine invertebrates, repetition history and generation mechanism of great interplate earthquakes at the oceanic trench, and oceanic effect on tropical rainfall system.

 

Activities of Physics and Chemistry

The purpose of this subproject is to explore novel inorganic materials from Kochi University by cooperating physical and chemical scientists. In order to achieve this, this subproject synthesizes various materials by using physical and chemical method, and performs macroscopic (electrical resistivity, magnetic susceptibility, specific heat, thermal conductivity, thermopower etc.) and microscopic measurements (NMR/NQR) under multi extreme (low temperature down to 1 K, high field up to 7 T and high pressure up to 4 GPa) conditions. In addition, theoretical consideration and calculation are executed. The researchers who specialize the physical properties physics, the physical properties chemistry, the calculation chemistry, the natural products chemistry, and the hadron physics cooperate one another.

 

Activities of Environmental Science

The objectives of the subproject "Environmental Science" are to clarify dynamical features of biotic communities and populations which are subject to various natural and artificial disturbances, and to conserve the biodiversity in such unstable environments. The subproject has two research groups: One group is studying vegetation histories and biotic communities changed in the past by using analyses of fossil pollen, charcoal record and trace fossil. The other aims to reveal the relationships between dynamics of biotic communities and biodiversity, and land slide or disturbances of human and wild animals in mountainous areas in Kochi Prefecture. In 2010, we investigated the degradation of the vegetation developed in the areas around Mt. Sanrei, Shikoku Mountains where grazing pressure by Sika Deer are increasing rapidly. The conservation of biodiversity in this area was conducted by setting deer protection nets in various environments.

 

Activities of Water and Biomass

We have just started a research project “Water and biomass” focusing on development of an innovative recycling system for bio-resource, water and energy. This study is subdivided into three research areas:

  1. Cascading water and/or biomass cycle system
  2. Energy production from forest and agricultural bio-resources
  3. Watershed management for sound water environment

Research area 1 conducts various kinds of research aiming at the development of innovative cascading water/bio-resource recycling system breaking away from conventional one-pass type utilization system. This cascading system could produce valuable products by utilizing the bio-resources in consideration of their qualities. Research area 2 aims to realize self- sustenance in energy in rural area by utilizing water and bio-resources. Novel technologies and systems for the utilization of forest and agricultural bio-resources as energy will be developed from the aspects of collection of bio-resources and utilization as solid fuels. Research area 3 carries out the development of various kinds of water environmental protection technologies and field observations for water environment by the collaboration of researchers from different research fields. I hope that the promotion of this project will simultaneously lead to the effective utilization of water and bio-resources, environmental protection, and activation of rural areas.

 

Activities of Food and Energy

Topographic and metrological features characterize agriculture in Kochi with two aspects; warm temperate condition with abundant rain fall and solar irradiation promote agricultural production, mountainous land contrary limits their activities.
Our project is conducting extensive research aiming to develop the technology on sustainable crop and marine production and forest management systems in Kochi, by efficiency improvement of positive environmental factors, and searching the availability of negative one as a potential resource.
Our research program consists of 7 groups: food science, regional environment resource for food production, regional environment resource for education, energy use for food production, environmental control for food production, forest science, and marine and fisheries sciences.

 

Activities of Rural Resource Uses

Rural problems as results of aging and depopulation, such as increasing abandoned farms, disappearing communities after weakening the community functions, and biodiversity loss, have become more severe in these decades. This project aims to conduct action-researches to resolve the problems. The research area in Japan is Kochi prefecture where the problems are seriously advanced comparing with other prefectures. The other focusing areas are Southeast Asia countries where same type of problems has been just happening. In Japan, we intend to utilize rich natural environment in rural areas. For example, we try to conduct activities to produce forest and agriculture products, such as slash and burn farming, blueberry growing and sawing lumber for planted-forest management. We also attempt to establish low cost life-style in rural communities utilizing abundant natural resources, such as mini-hydro generation. In Southeast Asia, the present condition concerning aging and depopulation and effects by those phenomenon in rural communities are studied, focusing Sarawak of Malaysia as our main study area.

 

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