University of the Philippines Los Baños

Thirteen research personnel from UPLB were promoted to Scientists by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) under its Scientific Career System (SCS). The new Scientists took their oath on July 19 during ceremonies held at the Richmonde Hotel in Libis, Quezon City. The 13 from UPLB are among 20 researchers all over the country, 4 of whom are from the UP System and 3 from research institutes of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The oath taking ceremony was led by Hon. Francisco T. Duque III, chair of the Civil Service Commission, and Hon. Mario G. Montejo, DOST secretary. The awardees from UPLB are from the Agricultural Systems Cluster (ASC), Crop Science Cluster (CSC), and Crop Protection Cluster (CPC) of the College of Agriculture (CA), and from the College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR-FDC).

Sancho G. Bon, formerly a University Researcher (UR) II at the CSC-Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) was promoted to Scientist I rank for his work on plant genetic resources conservation and management. Bon discovered and collected nine new populations of wild rice varieties, Oryza officianalis and Oryza meyeriana. These are two of the four wild rice species known to occur sporadically in the country. Bon is also credited for re-establishing the UPLB-PhilRice Rice Germplasm Collection, which today has a thousand accessions of native varieties and some introgressed breeding lines.

Lolita M. Dolores, formerly a UR II at the CSC-IPB, was awarded Scientist I rank for her contributions to plant pathology, particularly in virology. She isolated and identified two major strains of sweet potato feathery mottle, sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus, onion yellow dwarf virus on garlic, cucumber green mottle mosaic virus on bottlegourd, tomato leaf curl Philippine virus, and squash leaf curl virus. She characterized 13 isolates of papaya ringspot virus and 14 isolates of cucurbit aphid-borne yellow virus. Dolores also optimized a regeneration protocol for local sweet potato varieties and improved and standardized a virus indexing protocol for producing sweet potato planting materials.

Senen H. Escamos, formerly a UR III of the CSC-IPB, was promoted to Scientist I for her contributions in the field of agronomy. Escamos is the principal breeder of two irrigated lowland and two TGMS-based two-line hybrid rice varieties approved by the National Seed lndustry Council. She also contributed to the development of one glutinous and three rainfed lowland rice varieties. TGMS breeding is considered a viable option in enhancing further the level and occurrence of heterosis in rice.

Romeo V. Labios, formerly a UR IV of the ASC, was awarded Scientist I rank for his work in crop production and physiology. Labios contributed significantly to the research on rice- and corn-based farming systems to address food security and nutrition problems using on-farm participatory adaptive research methodology. His recent research collaborations with national and international organizations resulted to the development of approaches and protocols of the Site Specific Nutrient Management for corn and participatory varietal selection for stress-tolerant rice and white corn for the Philippines. These protocols are now used in all DA Regional Field Offices in the country.

Merdelyn T. Caasi- Lit, who was a UR III at the CSC-IPB, is now Scientist I owing to her contributions in host plant resistance entomology and plant stress physiology. Caasi-Lit identified sources and determined the mechanisms of resistance of corn, eggplant, bamboo, and other crops to insect pests. She investigated the responses of major pests and non-target arthropods to classical and transgenic resistant crop hybrids. Further, she pioneered in documenting the effects of UV-B irradiation on rice, including the discovery of novel UV-B absorbing flavonoids, and elucidating kinetics of their accumulation in UV-B stressed rice plants and their consequent effects on selected insect pests.

Rodel G. Maghirang, formerly a UR III at the CSC-IPB, has been promoted to Scientist I for his work in plant breeding and plant pathology. Maghirang developed stop-gap and NSlC-approved vegetable varieties including bush sitao, cowpea, pole sitao, snap beans, garden pea, eggplant, alugbati, saluyot, okra, and pigeon pea. He also developed an organic breeding system and varieties for vegetables such as ampalaya, cucumber, squash, eggplant, pepper, tomato, lettuce, and pole sitao. Maghirang designed training modules and audiovisual materials, and trained growers, groups, and companies on vegetable production, organic agriculture, and seed production.

Eufrocinio D. Marfori, formerly a UR II at CSC-IPB, was promoted to Scientist I for his contributions in plant tissue culture. Marfori pioneered in studies on co-culturing plant callus and fungus to produce novel bioactive compounds that led to the discovery of a new antibiotic called trichosetin. He studied the antimicrobial compounds of Lansium domesticumfruit peel and the alkaloids of Catharanthus roseus, and developed the cell culture technology to produce these compounds in vitro. He also established the protocol for the tissue culture of Aloe barbadensis and Moringa oleifera for rapid clonal propagation.

Rosario G. Monsalud, a former UR III at BIOTECH, was promoted to Scientist I for her contributions to microbiology-ecology and systematics. Monsalud contributed more than 1,000 bacteria, yeasts, and molds with enzyme, antimicrobial, or phosphate-solubilizing properties to the Philippine National Collection of Microorganisms (PNCM) from bioprospecting work that she led in mangroves and agricultural soils. The PNCM, which she heads, has distributed more than 3,000 microbial cultures and performed various microbiological analyses for the academe and the industry.

Marcela M. Navasero, a former UR II at CPC, was promoted to Scientist l for her work in pushing the frontiers of entomology-biological control and pest biology. Navasero developed mass rearing techniques for pest thrips (Dichronothrips corbetti), mealy bugs (Dysmicoccus spp.), spider mites (Tetranychus truncatusand T. urticae), two phytoseiid predators (Neoseiulus calori and Proprioseiopsis lenis), and one predatory earwig (Chelisoches morio) now utilized by government and private institutions.

Mario V. Navasero, also a former UR II at NCPC, was promoted to Scientist I owing to his contributions in entomology-insect taxonomy, biological control, and pest management. Navasero developed crop protection technologies including biological control agents that are used in the management of pests of various crops. He discovered and contributed to the local insect fauna, two new genera, and five new species of jumping plant-lice.

Cecilia B. Pascual, a former UR IV at the NCPC, was promoted to Scientist I for her contributions in plant disease resistance and molecular plant pathology. Pascual contributed to the elucidation of corn/sorghum resistance to Peronosclerospora philippinensis, Rhizoctonia solani, Pectobacterium chrysanthemi pv. zeae and Diplodia macrospora Fumonisin-producing Fusarium verticillioides and on the pathogen’s genetic diversity; and to the development of rapid identification by molecular techniques.

Florencia B. Pulhin, a former UR III at the Forest Biological Sciences of the CFNR, was promoted to Scientist II for her contribution to knowledge in climate change and environmental forestry. Pulhin pioneered work on carbon stock assessment of different land uses. She co-initiated greenhouse gas inventory for the forestry sector and the first integrated assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation in watershed areas. Pulhin also developed, produced, and translated IEC materials on climate change into five major dialects.

Lolita DC. Valencia, a former UR II at the CSC-IPB, was promoted to Scientist I for her contributions in plant breeding and plant pathology. Valencia contributed significantly to the development, improvement, mass propagation, and release of NSIC-approved varieties of fruits and ornamentals. These fruits include ‘Red Princess’ cashew, ‘Mabini’ jackfruit, ‘Roja’ and ‘Amarillo’ rambutan, while the gumamela or Hibiscus hybrids include the “Oblation Series” including Hibiscus rosa-sinesis “Estrella F. Alabastro”, Hibiscus rosa-sinesis “Emerlinda R. Roman,” and Hibiscus rosa-sinesis “Nelia T. Gonzales”. She also determined the initial antifungal effects of extracted lemongrass oil as potential biocontrol agent against major fungal pathogens of gumamela.

The DOST-SCS was established within the Civil Service pursuant to Executive Order No. 784 on 17 March 1982 and formally organized on 19 July 1983 with the issuance of Executive Order No. 901. It is a system of recruitment, career progression, recognition, and reward of scientists in public service as a means of developing a pool of highly qualified and productive scientific personnel.

Nominees for promotion under the DOST-SCS are evaluated based on their scientific outputs, specifically on their scientific productivity and scientific and professional standing. Scientific productivity includes discoveries and inventions, utility models, and scientific publications. Scientific and professional standing include prestigious scientific awards and paper presentations, among others.

Full-time researchers in government R&D institutes, fulltime researchers (non-faculty) in state universities and colleges with completed MS degree and 10 years of productive professional R&D works in the government service, are qualified under the DOST-SCS.