UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Rie Hayashi Matsumoto

Rie completed a BA and MA from the University of Tokyo, prior to joining STEaPP to complete her PhD in 2023.

Headshot of PhD student, Rie Hayashi
How did you come to realise you wanted to study for a PhD?

Through my experiences as a civil servant of Japan's Ministry of Economy and a diplomat stationed in Israel, I always felt the need for expertise in national security, especially concerning science, technology, and engineering. My passion for research and desire to delve deeper into the field of national security led me to pursue a PhD. I see this as an opportunity to contribute to developing innovative solutions and policies that address the complex challenges our world faces today. I believe a PhD course would bring me the academic expertise, professional network, and global awareness necessary to become a technocrat in the era of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity).

Why did you choose to undertake a PhD at UCL STEaPP?

I chose to undertake a PhD at UCL STEaPP for several reasons. Firstly, the location of UCL in the heart of London provides a vibrant and diverse academic environment that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration. Being surrounded by leading experts and scholars in various fields at UCL will undoubtedly enrich my research experience and broaden my perspective. Additionally, UCL STEaPP has an excellent reputation for its research and education programs in science, technology, engineering, and public policy. This aligns perfectly with my research interests and aspirations. Moreover, during the application process, I encountered Professor Arthur Petersen, a brilliant supervisor whose expertise and guidance in dealing with uncertainty resonated with my research goals. His research contributions and extensive network in the field will undoubtedly enhance the quality and impact of my research.

What is the focus of your PhD?

My PhD research focuses on assessing risks for the availability of advanced technology. In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, it is crucial to understand and anticipate the potential risks associated with the availability of advanced technology. By studying the complex interplay between technology, society, and policy, I aim to develop a comprehensive framework for assessing these risks. This framework will help policymakers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders make informed decisions regarding developing, deploying, and regulating advanced technology.

What has been the highlight of your PhD so far?

As a first-year PhD candidate, I have already had several exciting experiences that highlight my journey so far. One of the most vital aspects has been participating in the Doctoral Training Program offered by STEaPP. The program provides a rich academic environment with outstanding lectures and seminars that have broadened my knowledge and deepened my understanding of my research area. Inter alia, engaging in discussions with my peers during the Book Seminar series is truly invigorating. The opportunity to exchange ideas, receive feedback, and learn from fellow researchers is invaluable in shaping my research direction and enhancing my overall learning experience.

How would you describe the community at STEaPP?

The community at STEaPP is characterised by openness, diversity, and stimulation. It is a vibrant and inclusive community that fosters collaboration and interdisciplinary exchange. Researchers and students from various backgrounds bring their unique perspectives and expertise to create a dynamic and stimulating environment. The community encourages dialogue, critical thinking, and the exploration of innovative solutions to address complex societal challenges. The supportive nature of the community enables individuals to thrive and grow personally and professionally, making it an enriching experience to be part of the STEaPP community.

What are the facilities like at STEaPP, and the UCL campus generally?

STEaPP and the UCL campus facilities are exceptional and provide an enriching environment for research and learning. The STEaPP office, where I usually work, is well-equipped and conducive to academic discussions and collaborations. It serves as a hub for intellectual exchange, allowing for spontaneous interactions and the sharing of ideas. Additionally, whenever I need to work from home due to childcare or other duties, UCL’s IT system ideally enables in-depth research and coursework online by providing academic materials and other resources.

How have you found the support available at STEaPP, and the wider university?

The support available here is facilitating my research journey. As a mother of two young children, the kind and well-prepared support provided by STEaPP and UCL has been crucial. The university offers various resources and services that accommodate the diverse needs of students, ensuring an inclusive and supportive environment. Whether it is childcare support, flexible working arrangements, or additional guidance and mentorship, I have found the support system comprehensive and responsive. This support lets me fully immerse myself in my research and balance academic commitments and personal responsibilities.

What are your future plans/aspirations?

My plans and aspirations revolve around making meaningful contributions to Japan and the global community through the realisation of open and shared science. I aim to leverage my research expertise and interdisciplinary knowledge to address pressing societal challenges and inform evidence-based policymaking. I aspire to collaborate with policymakers, industry leaders, and research institutions to develop innovative solutions and strategies that promote sustainable development, social equity, and technological advancement. Ultimately, I strive to bridge the gap between academia and policymaking, ensuring that research outcomes are effectively translated into actionable policies that positively impact society.

Do you have a mentor/role model who has inspired you?

My mentor is Mr Takashi Mogi, Director of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. When I contemplated enrolling at the university for my PhD, Mr. Mogi, who had previously pursued his Master’s in Public Policy at UCL, provided invaluable guidance and encouragement.

After completing the course, I aspire to become a role model for young Japanese women, showcasing that balancing professional work, conducting impactful research, and being a dedicated mother is possible.

What advice would you give to future PhD students?

I'm still at the beginning of the journey, but if I could say something, you should embrace the journey with passion and perseverance. Remember that obstacles, such as childcare responsibilities like mine, should not deter you from pursuing your goals. Seek support and explore resources available to help you navigate these challenges. Stepping onto campus will be a transformative experience that will shape you for the better.