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Meet the new Outstanding Young Scientists

12:03 AM July 08, 2014

(First of two parts)

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Twelve scientists, ages 40 and under, will be conferred the honor of being  Outstanding Young Scientists  on July 10 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Among those receiving the honor from the National Academy of Science and Technology  are these awardees in agriculture, environmental sciences and physics:

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Agricultural and rural systems

Jessie Pascual P. Bitog of Nueva Vizcaya State University designs agricultural structures like greenhouses, animal housing, windbreak systems, livestock odor dispersion structures and biomass furnaces.  Biomass as fuel is now widely used by farmers to dry corn and grain, especially in bad weather.

Bitog uses computer simulations to test the effectiveness of trees as windbreaks to control soil erosion. He has used computational fluid dynamics to design photobioreactors to produce microalgae.

His paper on this topic was one of the hottest research papers in 2012, cited many times by other scientists. Microalgae as feedstock for biodiesel is seen to be one of the energy sources of the future.  Amid increasing energy demand and depleting sources, Bitog focuses on alternative energy, such as pico-hydro for electricity generation, biogas and waterwheels for farm irrigation.

Animal science

Rommel C. Sulabo of the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños aims to help the Philippine livestock industry through research, teaching and extension.  He provides livestock producers with best practices to improve management, profitability and sustainability.

He is currently involved in applied monogastric nutrition, specifically feed ingredient evaluation, feed processing and safety, animal growth modeling, feeding management research.

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To ensure that research reaches the people, he travels around the country to train livestock farmers, animal nutritionists and farm personnel.  He is the editor in chief of the Philippine Journal of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, the youngest in its history.

Genetics

Ian Kendrich C. Fontanilla of UP Diliman aims to barcode the DNA of as many species of animals as possible, to preserve Philippine biodiversity. DNA barcoding is a rapid and accurate method to identify species using genes. It requires a comprehensive database of animal groups.

Fontanilla and his colleagues have barcoded 301 species belonging to three invertebrate groups (gastropods, earthworm, flies) and five vertebrate groups (amphibians, birds, reptiles, fish, mammals).

They have identified worms from the Giant African snail, introduced to the country during World War II by the Japanese.  The snail, a major crop pest, hosts worms that can cause meningitis in humans.

By DNA testing, Fontanilla and his team were able to detect the presence of the worm in snails in Mindanao, the first report of the parasite on the island.

Aquatic biosciences

Karl Marx A. Quiazon of Central Luzon State University specializes in the molecular biotechnology of fish nematodes (parasites), including those that cause human disease and allergies.

He is currently involved in an international project with 12 European and three Asian academic institutions and three enterprises funded by the European Commission.  The project revolves around the detection and  identification of nematodes on Philippine big-eye and yellowfin tuna to generate data to improve export standards in the European market.

Quiazon aims to use his research to improve sustainable livelihood for local fisherfolk, as well as to strengthen standards for human food safety of fish products consumed locally and abroad.

Environmental management

Glenn S.P. Banaguas of De La Salle Araneta University uses global climate models, mathematics simulations and algorithms, geographic information systems to study environmental change, such as to identify hot spots and to determine the intensity of tropical cyclones, sea level rise, global temperature.

Since the poorest sectors are the most affected, Banaguas coordinates participatory action research efforts with farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples in the provinces of Quezon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Quirino, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Sorsogon, Palawan and Tarlac.

Banaguas is involved in the modeling of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste management, biodiesel production for the university and its partners, policy creation for power and energy management.

Flood detector systems and temperature monitoring equipment developed by Banaguas and his team have been installed in agricultural and coastal areas to increase security against environmental hazards.

Banaguas aims to do research with a positive impact not just on marginalized peoples but also on the environment.

Physics

May T. Lim of UP Diliman applies physics to analyze and model systems that are rich in empirical data.  These include data mining social media (such as utterance analysis of Twitter), agent-based modeling of ecological systems, vehicular traffic modeling and analysis (such as the U-turn traffic flow), studies of complex networks.

The president of Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas, Lim is also a junior associate at Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.

(More awardees next week)

E-mail the author at [email protected]

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TAGS: Agriculture, environmental sciences, Learning, Outstanding Young Scientists, Philippines, physics
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