Notre Dame establishes exchange program with Kyoto University Institute for Chemical Research



The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame and Kyoto University’s Institute for Chemical Research will soon be exchanging faculty, staff, students and ideas, building on a partnership started by Notre Dame International.

Chair of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Ken Henderson says an official memorandum of understanding between his department and Kyoto’s institute lays out a template for collaboration. In addition to enabling student and faculty visits, the agreement lays the groundwork for growing research partnerships and the development of joint conferences and workshops. It is the type of interaction envisioned when Notre Dame International and Kyoto University initiated the institutional partnership level two years ago. “One of Notre Dame International’s goals is to assist Notre Dame in becoming a globally recognized research university. Working with very prestigious partners such as Kyoto University reflects very well on Notre Dame,” Henderson says. “The ability to work with faculty that bring a different perspective and set of skills opens up new research opportunities.”

Kyoto’s Institute for Chemical Research is considered a global leader in the field. Slavi Sevov, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame, says Kyoto has particularly strong solid state chemistry, polymers and synthesis programs, all of which pair well with expertise at Notre Dame. Sevov adds that students who take part in exchanges will come out of school stronger for the experience. “A student who learns a lot of skills here and then goes to Kyoto and learns more would be better set for jobs and post-docs,” Sevov says. “That would greatly benefit our students, and their students as well.”

Besides the strong science fit between the universities, Henderson says that Kyoto’s history as a spiritual center in Japan will be a significant opportunity for Notre Dame students who visit the city. While Kyoto University isn’t a faith-based institution, being exposed to the culture of the place will resonate with students. “It’s the religious capital of Japan, and that’s a good partnership for Notre Dame as a faith-based institution,” Henderson says.

The current memorandum comes two years after an institutional agreement between Notre Dame and Kyoto University, after which Notre Dame officials visited Kyoto and a connection was made between the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Institute for Chemical Research. 

Originally published by Brian Wallheimer at on March 18, 2016.