19 oktober 2011

Meet the Team Leader - Dr. Kenny Matsuoka

Dr. Matsuoka describes himself as a field-oriented glaciologist.  He always frames research questions as "what we can learn from the data" and "what kinds of tools and data we need to have to understand the nature."  The nature is inherently complicate so we need to have eagle eyes to probe into it.  Theory and laboratory work can help us formulate hypotheses which guide us to understand the complicated data.  It is Dr. Matsuoka's philosophy that fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and theoretical development are three wheels of a car.  The other wheel is passion for science.  None of them can be absent for excellent science.

After he received a BS in solid state physics in 1995, he received his MS and PhD in 1997 and 2002, respectively, from Hokkaido University in Japan.  After three-year postdoctoral training both in Japan and United States, he served to the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle, as a Research Assistant Professor from 2005 to 2010.  During this period, he received funding of more than 1.6 Million dollars both from federal and non-federal resources to run seven projects.  These projects studied both Arctic and Antarctic regions using ice-penetrating radar and GPS as the primary tools.  These projects have also developed theoretical framework by modeling and laboratory experiments.

February 2010, he joined Norwegian Polar Institute as the Antarctic Glaciologist.  It is his desire to develop a group with full of scientific ambitious and collegial atmosphere.  He also maintains strong partnership with University of Washington glaciology group as an affiliate faculty member.  He regularly deploys to Arctic and Antarctic regions: he conducted fieldwork in Antarctica with support from Japanese, US, Belgian and Norwegian programs.  He also worked in Patagonia, Kamchatka, Iceland, Alaska, and Svalbard.

Dr. Matsuoka also has strong passion for education.  He decided to develop his career in glaciology when he measured glacier-ice motion every hour using optical distance meter (prior to the GPS era).  Textbooks say that ice is moving but this is indeed first time for him to directly see it scientifically.  Most of field deployment is made when weather is cooperative, which certainly biases our view on the nature.  When he wintered over in Antarctica as one of youngest team members between 1998 and 2000, he realized how it is difficult to understand phenomena that are spatially and temporally varying.  These his first-hand experiences are his motivations to involve youngsters in his research programs.  He expects that students bring two hands and two bright eyes.  Kenny is keen to provide training for next generations of earth scientists.

Learn more about Dr. Matsuoka and his research at http://www.kennymatsuoka.org/

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