DOST, NAST recognize 2014 outstanding Filipino scientists, engineers, innovators

By Jade D. Miguel

MANILA, July 24 (PNA) — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) on Thursday awarded this year’s outstanding Filipino scientists, engineers, and innovators from the country’s scientific community.

Anchored on the theme, “Philippines: A Science Nation Meeting Global Challenges,” the DOST and NAST PHL have opened the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) Thursday at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City by recognizing outstanding individuals and publications for 2014 which showcase the latest DOST technologies and programs.

Among the awards given are: Outstanding Technology Commercialization Award, also known as the Gregorio Y. Zara medal; Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research, or the Eduardo A. Quisumbing medal; Applied Research, or the Julian A. Banzon medal; and the Outstanding Science Administrator Award or the Dioscoro L. Umali medal.

The Outstanding Technology Commercialization Award is being given to technology generators and developers whose technologies have been commercialized.

This year’s awardee is Ms. Tessie C. Nunez of the Visayas State University in Visca, Baybay City. She was recognized for her successful commercialization of “makapuno” or the soft-endospermed coconut.

Makapuno has been utilized in the export of sweetened dessert popularly used as ice cream flavoring, cake topping and pastry filling. The product is also being used in the United States as a major ingredient in the production of wood wrap.

Meanwhile, the Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research is being given to an individual or group who have made exceptional contributions through basic research. The awardee for this year is Dr. Grecebio Jonathan D. Alejandro of the University of Sto. Tomas for his research on “Molecular phylogeny and taxonomic revision of the Philippine endemic Villaria Rolfe”.

Alejandro’s study pioneered the phylogenetic classification of the little known Rubiaceae genus Villaria and documented the morphology and conservation status of all its species.

On the other hand, the awardee for the Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research is Dr. Rhodora V. Azanza of the University of the Philippines Diliman for her outstanding research leadership on the program, “Detection and Mitigation of Technology and Early Warning System for Philippine Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB Tech) and Molecular studies of HAB Causative Organisms and Associated Bacteria (HAB Genomics)”.

The said study has helped in the detection and mitigation of red tides or technically known as HABs which afford a great impact on public health, economy, and the environment.

The Outstanding Science Administrator award is given to the most deserving Science and Technology (S&T) and Research and Development (R&D) administrators who have made efficient management and implementation of plans and programs. Recipient of the award this year is Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB).

Ebora brought the institution at the forefront of biotechnology research in the Philippines being the head of BIOTECH and for leading the commercialization and technology transfer of BIOTECH products and services.

In an exclusive interview with PNA, Dr. Ebora shared the thrust of their institution and their contributions especially in agriculture and environment.

“The focus of BIOTECH is research. We have programs for agriculture, industry and environment, informatics and fermentation engineering,” Ebora said.

BIOTECH’s fermentation plant in UPLB is the only service laboratory and production facility in the Philippines which caters to such kind of fermentation engineering. It is mainly funded by the DOST.

Also, among the BIOTECH products which contributed in agricultural crops is the Bio-N, an inoculant for rice and corn.

“When you use Bio-N in your rice or corn [plantation], you basically reduce the fertilizer input because the microorganisms can actually pick the nitrogen from the air,” Ebora explained.

A cash prize of P150,000, certificate of recognition, and a plaque from NAST PHL were given to each awardee. (PNA)