Dr. Sanae Okamoto


Researcher

Research group(s):
5. Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Sustainability Transitions

Dr. Sanae Okamoto is a psychologist and behavioural scientist with background in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavioural Economics. She has an expertise in both industry and academia by applying psychology and behavioural science insights towards diverse objectives such as Circular Economy and Climate Resilience. She also provides workshops and seminars for practitioners in public and private sectors.

She is currently working on multiple projects such as:

- Circular Economy such as SYSCHEMIQ project as part of the Horizon Green Deal programme: Together with a number of stakeholders, working on understanding and improving plastic recycling behaviour by utilizing behavioural insights and psychological mechanisms.

- Climate Resilience and Mental Health Impact of Climate Change and climate change induced natural disasters. She is co-lead of the tri-institutional initiative of UNU-Climate Reslience Initiative, and the workpackage 'Community and Individual Responses and Preparedness): together with colleagues from UNU-CRIS, UNU-EHS, UNU-IIGH, UNU-IAS, WHO, UNICEF, and other international institutes, investigating gaps and needs in policy and practice of mental health and psychosocial support systems in the Global North and Global South.

Recently, she co-organized an United Nations System side event at COP27 on Multifaceted Impacts of Climate Change on Mental Health - Towards Integrated Climate Services

 

She is also a member of the Comprehensive Innovation Team - System Transition and Climate Action (led by Dr. Turkeli) 

 

- Corporate Social/Environmental Responsibility together with VKWLimburg (SMEs association in Belgium) and Trinity Business School in Ireland, investigating corporate pro-environmental practices and green innovations among SMEs in European countries and beyond.

 

Short bio:

She received her MA in Psychology from Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan and her PhD in Psychology from Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University. Her MA and PhD reseaerch were conducted at Kyoto University, Japan and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany.

Her early research career focused on social dynamics and behaviour in primates (chimpanzees and humans) at Kyoto University and Nagoya University, Japan; the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany; University of Louisiana at Lafayette, USA; and the field sites in Republic of Guinea and Republic of Liberia.

In the last years, she worked as an Assistant Professor of Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics at the School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University. Before officially joining at MERIT in the early 2021, she shifted her professional focus into more practice to address societal challenges (e.g., University Industry Innovation Network, Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences, Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation, also at several private companies) and contributed to a number of consultancy projects and workshops in behavioural insights informed interventions, business development; program management; university-industry liaison; online platform development, etc. 

Other engagements

Consumer behaviour and environmental psychology: Together with a number of international collaborators (Switzerlands, NL, UK, India), she has been investigating how design or product information improve consumer behaviour, and to identify behavioural spillovers that can be utlized for developing effective behavioural interventions.

Triple-helix relations: As a member of advisory board at University Industry Innovation Network, she contributes to triple-helix engagement and facilitates collaboration between European and non-Western university-industry relations. She also provides executive courses on behavioural change within HEI organizations through the nudge approach. Currently, she is working on a meta-analytical study on university-industry collaboration case studies by unsupervised machine learning techniques to identify university business development strategies.

Entrepreneurship education: As a program coordinator for the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, she led a global survey of good practices at higher education institutions and governemnt agencies with a special focus on advanced programs of entrepreneurial education and innovation ecosystem in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, UK, Finland, USA, Australia.

Selected publications:

Okamoto, S. & Nagabhatla, N. (2022). 'Climate change’s impact on mental health is overlooked and misunderstood – here’s what can be done' The Conversation UK.

Nagabhatla, Werners, S.E., Bhandari, S., Okamoto, S., & Caucchi, S. (2022). Learning From European Floods 2021 Towards Resilience-Focused Recovery Pathways: Flood Risk Governance To Facilitate Climate-Resilient Pathways. Joint Publication REPORT: Climate Resilient Water Resources Management - Driving the Conversation Forward. Water and Climate Coalition (WCC) p.10-13. 

Okamoto, S., Sluismans, R. (2021). The COP26: Psychological game behind a successful negotiation. The Conversation UK.

Lopes, C. A., Okamoto, S. (2020). Stopping the coronavirus: What does the evidence say are the best measures? The Conversation UK.

Leticia, R.O., Okamoto, S., Goebel, R., Riedl, A. (2018). Positive and negative reciprocity: Two sides of the same coin? Proceedings at Society for Neuroscience.

Gross, J., Méder, Z., Okamoto-Barth, S., Riedl, A. (2016). Building the Leviathan – Voluntary centralisation of punishment power sustains cooperation in humans. Scientific Reports 6, 20767. 

Gross, J., Wolebert, E., Zimmermann, J., Okamoto-Barth, S., Riedl, A., Goebel, R. (2014). Value signals in the prefrontal cortex predict individual preferences across reward categories. Journal of Neuroscience, 34 (22) 7580-7586; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5082-13.2014.

Op-ed media outlets:

Nagabhatla, N., Okamoto, S., & Bhandari, S. (2021). The new normal of Climate Grief: Why mental must feature in adaptation and resilience planning. UNU-MERIT, UNU-CRIS, UNU-IIGH

Okamoto, S. (2020). Trust is a vital commodity in a pandemic how one Dutch coalition is matchmaking solutions online. UNU-MERIT blog series.

Okamoto, S. (2019). What does the future hold for our universities from talent engines to tech literacy? UNU-MERIT blog series.

Ramani, S. & Okamoto, S. (2018). A global nudge for sustainable development – GLOBELICS.

Recent book chapters:

Holden, N., Okamoto, S. Nobrega, C., Venkataramani R., and Virgolino J. (2022). ‘Governance insights from Japan for building disaster resilient communities’ in chapter ‘Governance challenges of SDG 11: Case studies from India, Brazil and Japan’ in SDG11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. Eds. Ramani S. and Hettiarachchi, H., Rutledge/Tailor & Francis

Okamoto, S. & Inoue, F. (2019). Global survey of Best practices at higher education institutions – Diversification and quality assurance of vocational education. Annual reports for Japan Society for Promotion of Science 17K01146.

Okamoto-Barth, S. (2018). Triadic gaze in primates. In J. Vonk and T. K. Shackelford (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer Nature: New York.




UNU-MERIT