There is more to this Periodic Table than meets the eye

The UPLB Chemical Society (Chemsoc) and the Institute of Chemistry (IC) have mounted the Periodic Table of the Elements on the wall of the IC lobby through the former’s Elementa Project™.

Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr., who was the guest-of-honor in the virtual ceremony for the unveiling and hand-over of the periodic table held on June 2, expressed his pride and happiness after he learned that the project is more than just providing “a decorative periodic table.” 

Dr. Marivic S. Lacsamana, director of IC, having full knowledge about the project, had this to say in her message at the program: “This is not just a periodic table. To me, it represents the strong ties between IC and its students through the years.” 

According to Dr. Laureano Bondoc, Jr., an IC alumnus who heads the project from his home base in Maryland, USA, the project started as a fundraising idea of Dr. Lani Mercado, Chemsoc member and UPLB alumna who is in Texas, USA. 

After a series of brainstorming sessions, Elementa Project™ has expanded in scope and meaning. Aside from using the word “element” in its name, the periodic table being one of the most important concepts in chemistry, it has two other initiatives –– a fundraising drive and an evaluation of the needs of students, IC, and the chemistry profession to which it can channel its help. 

Dr. Bondoc expressed pride in how they, a random group of alumni, worked as professionals and with a sense of urgency, accomplished what they already have. 

The Periodic Table of the Elements project was made possible by at least 106 Chemsoc alumni who provided 1-year sponsorship of the 118 elements for an adoption fee per element. The periodic table was designed in Australia and manufactured in the Philippines. 

The group also held the Elementa Webinar Series, co-sponsored by IC and supported by Chemsoc member, Rey Espiritu and his company, MedConcept. The topics ranged from the pandemic to career pathways in chemistry. 

Future projects that Dr. Bondoc said they will undertake include donation of equipment, granting of scholarships and financial assistance, thesis competition, souvenir fundraising, networking, job placement, career orientation, scientific incubator consultation, holding of an international chemistry week, and providing access to chemistry books and journals.

He expressed confidence that they will be able to accomplish more if more alumni are involved. “With only 15% involvement of the 700+ Chemsoc alumni, for Elementa, more alumni engagement is the order of the day,” he pointed out. 

“Success is not possible without investment of time, respect, and trust; relying on the honor system, the strong alumni bond, and the chance to give back to the University,” Dr. Bondoc added.

Dr. Bondoc who took part in the program virtually, noted that the Elementa Project™ will be semi-autonomous and operating under the umbrella of the UPLB Chemical Society Alumni Association (UPLBCSAA) with the vision of maximizing the global competitive advantage of the chemistry graduate. “We want our graduates primed to do relevant work anywhere,” he added. 

The IC alumni, most of whom participated in the program virtually, look at Elementa as the silver lining in this pandemic. It began as resident and alumni members of Chemsoc got together via video conference to initially catch-up with each other when the community quarantines were enforced in 2020. The virtual meetings eventually turned into a regular Saturday night social meeting in which the Elementa Project™ was born.

Dr. Lacsamana, an advocate of the project from day one, expressed her gratitude to UPLB Chemsoc and the Office of the Chancellor for their support in helping realize the project despite the restricted movement and logistical challenges that the pandemic brought. 

As Chancellor Camacho pointed out, “now we are reaping the fruit of what our alumni members have given to all our students in helping provide quality Chemistry education.” 

He further expressed his hopes that other groups in the UPLB community will copy what Chemsoc has started through the Elementa Project™. (Gloria D. Gamat, a member of Chemsoc and belongs to the BS Chemistry Class of 1996) 

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