Who are the 4 new National Scientists of PH?
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday conferred the Order of National Scientists to four experts in the field of science and technology.
It is the highest honor given by the President to an individual who had contributed significantly to the fields of science and technology in the country.
Those who received the award were Dr. Gavino Trono, Ph.D. for marine biology, Dr. Angel Alcala, Ph.D. for biological science, Dr. Ramon Barba, Ph.D. for horticulture and Dr. Edgardo Gomez, Ph.D. also for marine biology.
Aquino was joined by Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) President William Padolina.
The NAST is the highest recognition and advisory body of the Philippines on science and technology. It recommends individuals qualified to become National Scientists.
Under Presidential Decree 1003-A, National Scientists will receive an annual gratuity and other privileges similar to those enjoyed by National Artists.
There are now 17 living National Scientists including Clara Lim-Syliangco, Dolores Ramirez, Gelia Castillo, Bienvenido Juliano, Clare Baltazar, Benito Vergara, Ricardo Lantican, Lourdes Cruz, Teodulo Topacio, Jr., Mercedes Concepcion, Ernesto Domingo, Raul Fabella and Fr. Bienvenido Nebres.
Below are the profiles of the four new National Scientists:
Dr. Angel C. Alcala, Ph.D. – He was recognized for his research on the ecology and diversity of Philippine amphibians and reptiles, as well as marine biodiversity and conservation of marine-protected areas.
His work has led to a national policy on marine no-take zones or protective areas, which has become a model of coastal resource management that has been adopted by other countries.
As an academician and public administrator, Alcala institutionalized scientific research on marine biology and conservation when he was appointed president of Silliman University.
He served as Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary from 1992 to 1995 and as Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairman from 1995 to 1999.
Alcala served as consultant on marine and aquatic projects under the United Nations Environment Programme, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Bank Global Environment Facility, the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation and the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute.
He graduated magna cum laude with a Biology degree from Silliman University and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.
Dr. Ramon C. Barba, Ph.D. – Barba was recognized for his achievements in the field of plant physiology, especially the induction of flowering of mango and micropropagation or the rapid multiplying of stock plant of important crop species.
His pioneering work with mangoes resulted in the year-round availability of the fruit. The plant growth enhancer he developed helped accelerate the growth cycle of trees, assuring continuous fruit bearing of mango trees.
The technology was patented in the Philippines, the United States, England, Australia and New Zealand. However, Barba did not collect royalties from the patent to enable poor farmers to use the technology for free.
Meanwhile, his research in plant propagation allowed his team at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) to develop a tissue culture protocol allowing the production of large quantities of disease-free banana planting material for annual replanting. The same was done for sugar cane, with the tissue culture protocol becoming an integral tool for the sector worldwide. Micropropagation protocols were also created for more than 40 species of plants.
Barba worked for various private institutions related to biotechnology and initiated and developed what is now called the Plant Cell and Tissue Culture Laboratory and Tissue Culture Program at the IPB, a research institute of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
Barba received his B.S. in Agriculture from the University of the Philippines. He obtained his M.Sc. in Horticulture from the University of Georgia and his Ph.D. in Horticulture from the University of Hawaii.
Dr. Edgardo D. Gomez, Ph.D. – Gomez is most known for his research and conservation efforts in invertebrate biology and ecology.
He was pivotal in the world’s first national-scale assessment of damage to coral reefs, resulting in international conservation initiatives such as the Global reefs and Risk Analysis, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and the International Coral Reef Action.
In addition to his research work, Gomez campaigned for the replanting of corals and even pioneered giant clam breeding to help augment the income of coastal communities.
He was also the founding director of the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines and was cited for having a hand in the growth of marine science throughout Southeast Asia.
Gomez also contributed to the baseline mapping of the Philippines that helped lay the groundwork for the Archipelagic Studies Program of UP and assisted the government in addressing the territorial disputes surrounding Spratlys Islands.
Gomez received a degree in education, summa cum laude, from the De La Salle University. His M.S. Biology was obtained from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in Marine Biology frm the University of California San Diego.
Dr. Gavino C. Trono Jr., Ph.D. – Gavino was cited for his outstanding contributions in the field of tropical marine phycology, focusing on seaweed biodiversity.
He published extensive studies on the culture of seaweed species that benefited the livelihood of coastal populations and was the first to report the occurrence of “ice-ice” disease that affected many seaweed farms.
His work resulted in the implementation of 45 research projects, the publication of 42 research papers and the description and publication of 25 new species of marine benthic algae.
Trono not only mentored many graduate studens but also established the largest phycological herbarium in the country – the G.T. Velasquez Herbarium in the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute. It houses more than 70,000 curated herbarium specimens of seaweed flora.
He is currently a technical consultant for the Food and Agriculural Organization (FAO) Aquaculture Seaweed Research and Development.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Botany from the University of the Philippines, Trono later received his M.S. Agricultural Botany from the Araneta University and his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Hawaii.
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