University of the Philippines Los Baños

Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, director of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) was awarded the Outstanding Science Administrator Award or DL Umali Medal, which recognizes S&T or R&D administrators from the academe, private sector, or government. These administrators have made significant contributions to science and technology through effective management and implementation of plans and programs.

From July 2010 to July 2013, BIOTECH streamlined its research agenda, implemented a significant number of projects, increased its research funds, and enhanced its operational efficiency. To implement all these, Dr. Ebora acknowledges the support of the BIOTECH personnel, University administration, and the DOST, DA, and DENR.

BIOTECH streamlined its research agenda to establish interdisciplinary programs, focusing on agricultural productivity, environmental protection, food security and safety, health promotion, and the prudent use of natural resources. Consequently, it reorganized and renamed its research programs.

At present, the Institute is implementing 120 projects under its various biotechnology programs on agriculture and forestry; food, feed and specialty products; environmental and industrial biotechnology; bioinformatics and drug discovery; communication and technology utilization; and its services units.

To fill the gap in research, the Institute established new laboratories, the Bioinformatics Laboratory and the Nanotechnology Laboratory, and strengthened the Genetics and Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Under Dr. Ebora’s leadership, external funding support for BIOTECH projects increased by 225% in 2011 and by 170% in 2012, bringing in additional research funds of more than PhP 45M in 2011 and over PhP 116 M in 2012.

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Her researches have helped us build our defenses against environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and increased vulnerability to environmental risks and hazards.

Hence, for Dr. Damasa “Demi” Magcale-Macandog, professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences, the 2014 Environmental Science Award of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) is well deserved.

In particular, Dr. Macandog was recognized for leading a multidisciplinary research program that looked into various issues on the linkage between environmental degradation of the country’s largest freshwater body, Laguna de Bay, and food and human health.

The Laguna LakeHEAD Program on Managing Environmental Risks for Sustainable Food and Health Security in Watershed Planning in Laguna Lake Region found that pollution caused by urbanization and development have degraded the environment in Laguna Lake. Hence, she and her team have recommended strategies to rehabilitate the lake and to address the problem to prevent dire impacts on public health and food security.

Currently, a project component of the nationwide program “Detailed Resources Assessment Using Light Detection and Ranging (Phil-LiDAR-2)” is keeping Dr. Macandog busy.

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Four years ago, Dr. Fernando Chinte Sanchez, Jr., associate professor of landscape horticulture at the College of Agriculture (CA), designed and decorated the stage of Quirino Grandstand in Manila for the then inauguration of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010. Fast forward to Oct. 29, 2014, and Dr. Sanchez found himself standing on a beautifully designed stage at the Makiling Botanic Gardens (MBG) Pavilion where he took his oath as the ninth chancellor of UPLB.

By holding the turnover and his oath-taking ceremony at the MBG, Chancellor Sanchez was paying tribute to the memory of his grandfather, Dr. Felix Oraa Chinte, Sr. Dr. Chinte started the teaching vocation in the Chinte-Sanchez family as a pioneer faculty member at the then College of Forestry.

In his first official address as UPLB Chancellor, Chancellor Sanchez recalled how he accompanied his grandfather to Mount Makiling during the latter’s field works. In these trips, he witnessed the old man’s dedication, perseverance, and commitment to the University.

Who would have thought that by inspiring teachers in his family, one of them would rise to the highest position in UPLB? Dr. Chinte would have been proud of how Chancellor Sanchez enjoined the UPLB constituents to perform their roles towards making UPLB a globally competitive research university.

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(Screengrab from Bandila News Program, ABS-CBN)

 

“Creativity is to see what everybody else has seen but to think what nobody else has thought.” -Albert Einstein

This favorite quote of Dr. Ramon C. Barba, newly conferred National Scientist of the Philippines, describes his lifework.

His colleagues in the scientific community attest to “his ability to perceive simple solutions to complex problems and to produce results with minimum expenditure and gadgetry.”

Take the case of his major research – the discovery of mango flower induction by potassium nitrate (KNO3). This discovery, according to mango expert Nestor Bondad, “is considered internationally as the most significant breakthrough in mango research” and “a milestone in the study of tropical tree physiology”. Hence, Dr. Barba is known as the “Mango Hero.”

The mango technology is important because the few research breakthroughs in the past 50 years with far-reaching implications in agriculture concentrated on breeding new plant varieties of major cereals.

Dr. Barba’s discovery of KN03 was on the neglected area of systematic plant growth control, that is, to alter plant behavior in order that they can be more productive under existing farming technology.

From a PhP500 research budget in the 1970s, Dr. Barba’s solution to mango’s seasonal, biennial and erratic fruit-bearing habits provided the main stimulus for the development of the now multi-billion peso mango industry in the Philippines and in tropical countries.

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Year 1918 is such a distant year for many, transcending historical memories of today’s EDSA People Power participants, Martial Law victims, and World War II survivors. Because it took place during the American colonial period, it is an episode in our history that most of us can only imagine through reading and research.

During the said year, the legislative branch of the Philippine Islands had been enjoying the fruits of the Jones Law for two years already. The said law is a milestone in 20th Century Philippine politics because it conceived the Senate of the Philippines. Filipino leaders were given bigger roles in administering the country. In particular, future Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon was gradually and surely making a name as the foremost Filipino leader of his time. 

At the local scene in Los Baños, Laguna, particularly at the UP College of Agriculture (UPCA), the academic atmosphere was almost as fresh as the established colonial government.  Only degree programs in agriculture and forestry were offered. In terms of leadership, Dean Charles Fuller Baker was at the helm of the College one year after the retirement of first dean Edwin Bingham Copeland. Also, the campus was yet to see the entrance of female students.

CAMP-BOUND: UPCA faculty and student volunteers to the Philippine National Guard on their way to Camp Claudio in Parañaque for their training.
(Photo taken from "The Philippine Agriculturist" Vol 43, No. 1 published in June 1959)

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