The Department of Natural History Sciences encompasses three main research areas: 1) Earth and Planetary Sciences, 2) Biodiversity and Organismal Evolution, and 3) Science Communication. The scientific interests of this department span a size scale from molecules to the solar system, and a time scale from microseconds to billions of years. We also recognize the importance of disseminating cutting-edge scientific results to the public.
Earth and Planetary Dynamics (Division)
The Division of Earth and Planetary Dynamics conducts basic researches across a broad range of both temporal and spatial scales to better understand the Earth as a dynamic system constituted by the solid Earth, the oceans, and the atmosphere. We investigate diverse topics in geophysics, including crust and mantle dynamics, earthquakes, volcanic activity, and atmosphere-ocean circulation. To elucidate the nature of the dynamic Earth, we take a comprehensive approach based on theoretical and experimental studies, analyses of geophysical data, and fieldwork that takes advantage of the distinctive location of Hokkaido University. There are four laboratories in this Division: Meteorology, Physical Oceanography and Climate, Space Geodesy, and Seismology.
Earth and Planetary System Science (Division)
The Division of Earth and Planetary System Science has a rich tradition of leadership in geoscience research and education, consolidated through 80 years of accumulated experience and expanding in new directions. The Division offers graduate courses in a wide range of fields in the modern Earth and planetary sciences to allow students to understand the Earth as a system of interrelated physical, chemical, and biological processes, encompassing the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. There are six laboratories in this Division: Petrology and Volcanology, Paleobiology, Geochemistry, Earth Materials Science, Earth Biosphere Geoscience, and Geotectonics.
Seismology and Volcanology (Division)
When, where, and why do earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place, and how large will they be? While earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are often a threat to public safety, they can also provide important clues to understanding Earth dynamics and evolution. Earthquakes and volcanoes are surface manifestations of the internal activity of the Earth, and thus understanding their mechanisms and processes is a fundamental issue in the geosciences. We investigate the physical background of seismic and volcanic activity based on a multi-disciplinary approach, including seismology, geodesy, geothermics, fluid dynamics, electromagnetics, and geology, in collaboration with domestic and international universities and research institutes. Hokkaido provides good opportunities for students to apply the wide range of knowledge they have learned to real earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.
There exists today an amazing diversity of organisms, all of which are the consequence of evolution. Through the prism of evolution, the Division of Biodiversity investigates patterns of organismal change and the processes through which it arose. Using molecular, morphological, and ecological analyses, we study diversity at various levels within the biological hierarchy, including geographic patterns of genetic variation, phylogenetic relationships between closely and distantly related groups, and the organization of organisms into classification schemes.
Science Communication (Division)
Science communication has received much more attention in recent years than previously. This is due to increased awareness that science communication plays important roles in helping the public understand the aims and significance of scientific research, and in fostering greater interest in science among young students. It also behooves scientific researchers to be involved in science communication, because this helps scientists understand what the public expects of them, and in the process helps them gain the public’s confidence. The Division of Science Communication was founded in response to the above needs. Its fields of study include social studies of science, philosophy of science, museum studies, and science education.