with reports from Ronaldo Magsakay
The year 2018 will be another year of accolades for the country’s science community.
With only two months to go before the end of the year, Filipino scientists, science researchers, science students, and media science writers continue to gain recognition and scholarships from here and abroad for outstanding achievements in science, technology and innovation.
MARAWI’S S&T SCHOLARS
January opened with more than 200 displaced science & technology students and professionals in Marawi receiving scholarship grants as part of rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City after a five-month siege.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) and the Mindanao State University (MSU), paved the way for scholarship grants to be provided to 225 selected undergraduate students in MSU Marawi City campus. The grantees will receive P10,000 per semester to cover school tuition fees, a P6,000 monthly allowance and P10,000 book allowance every year.
The MOA was signed on Jan. 26 at the MSU main campus in Marawi City.
DOST-SEI also facilitated the provision of financial assistance to selected S&T professionals in Marawi City pursuing higher studies in science and engineering in any of the DOST-accredited universities.
Some 20 slots were allotted to full-time graduate students who will receive P25,000 monthly allowance; P10,000 book allowance per year; and P200,000 research grant assistance, plus the amount of the actual tuition fees in their chosen universities.
Another 10 slots will be allotted to full-time PhD scholars who will receive P33,000 monthly allowance; P10,000 book allowance per year; and P475,000 research assistance, plus the amount of the actual tuition fees of their chosen universities.
Science Secretary Fortunato De la Pena said the granting of S&T scholarships will help restore and rehabilitate Marawi’s human and social fabric, especially much-needed human resources in the S&T sector.
INVENTORS EARN GOLD
Two Philippine inventions earned Gold Awards at the prestigious 46th International Invention Exhibition of Inventions held from April 11-15 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Entered by the DOST, the two inventions: Portable Smart Surface System and the Biotek-M emerged ahead of more than 1,000 entries received all over the world.
Receiving the ‘Jury Distinction’ award, the Portable Smart Surface System is an electronic sensor or system capable of converting virtually any flat surface into an interactive interface. It can enhance learning by offering interactive learning environments.
Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit, on the other hand, is used for detecting the presence of dengue infection in an hour or less in hospitals and standalone chain laboratories. Funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, the Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit detects the presence of the fatal dengue infection in the first 0-5 days of illness.
The 46th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva is the most important inventions exhibition in the world, with 1,000 new inventions and products, 700 exhibitors from 40 countries, 57,000 visitors from all 5 continents, 650 journalists, and benefits from the most extensive support and privileges that can be granted to an exhibition. It is under the patronage of the Swiss Federal Government, the State, the City of Geneva and of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
ASIAN SCIENTIST 8
Eight outstanding Filipino scientists made it to the top 100 scientists list of the prestigious Asian Scientist in May. This award-winning, Singapore-based science and technology magazine annually recognizes the significant contributions in science research and leadership of outstanding scientists in Asia.
All recipients of research grants from DOST, the eight scientists with their respective fields of expertise include: Dr. Rogel Mari D. Sese, Space Technology; Dr. Lucille Y. Abad, Nuclear Science; Jeffrey S. Perez, Seismolory; Dr. Nathaniel Hermosa II, Photonics; Dr. Mario Antonio L. Jiz II, Infection Disease; Dr. Lanndon A, Ocampo, Industrial Engineering; Dr. Aletta Conception T. Yiiiguez, Marine Science; and Dr. Philip A Alviola, Natural History.
Dr. Sese is one of only three astrophysicists in the country. In 2011, he spearheaded the creation of the first Astrophysics Research Laboratory in the Philippines. Active in promoting space science education and development, Sese’s research interests covers stellar astrophysics, astrophysical instrumentation, nano-satellite development and space science education. He served as Program Leader at the National SPACE Development Program.
Dr. Jiz is a 2017 National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Outstanding Young Scientist for his studies that led to a better understanding of immunity to schistosomiasis, an acute and chronic parasitic disease caused by blood flukes released by freshwater snails. Schistosomiasis affects millions of Filipinos. The NAST is the highest recognition and advisory body to the government and science community on matters related to science and technology,
Dr. Abad is a recipient of the Julian A. Banzon Medal as a 2017 Outstanding Research and Development awardee for her research on the use of irradiated seaweed as a plant growth supplement. Her work focused on radiation-modified carrageenan as food supplement for plants to further promote growth. The BusinessMirror reported that Abad’s work at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s Chemistry Research Section has proved an increase in rice yield by more than 20% and protected plants against pathogens.
Dr. Ocampo is one of the 2017 recipients of the Outstanding Young Scientist Awards of the NAST. He is recognized for his significant contributions to both the theory and practice of manufacturing sustainability and risk analysis, crucial points of interest for Philippine manufacturing and supply chain sector in view of climate change. He developed guidelines for manufacturing companies, both large firms and SMEs, to carry out strategic planning for competitiveness within the context of sustainability.
Another NAST Outstanding Young Scientist awardee in 2017, Perez is a Supervising Science Research Specialist of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS). He has led the active faults and paleoseismic studies long the Philippine fault, and was also part of the team that mapped and conducted studies along the Valley Fault System that traverses Greater Metro Manila Area and other active faults in the Philippines.
Dr. Conception won the 2017 NAST Outstanding Young Scientist Award for her work on modeling the dynamics of the ocean ecosystem to build early warning systems. In 2012, she received a P400,000 grant under the For Women In Science (FWIS) program of cosmetics firm L’Oreal and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for her research on harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs are more popularly known as red tide.
Dr. Alviola is a wildlife biologist with an experience of over 20 years. He is an Associate Professor at the UP-Los Baños Institute of Biological Sciences and is a Museum of Natural History Curator for Mammals at the UPLB Museum of Natural History. As a mammalogist, he has authored or co-authored 13 papers on mammalian taxonomy, and diversity on mountain ecosystems. He has also contributed to studies on bat viruses and public health. As a bat biologist, he has helped foreign and Filipino virologists capture and identify bats, and isolate novel viruses (and antibodies) from them.
Dr. Hermosa is the current program coordinator of the Photonics Research Laboratory in UP Diliman. As reported in the Asian Scientist, Dr. Hermosa is noted for his paper that documents how he and his team managed to “twist” light and slow it down. Published in Scientific Reports, Hermosa’s paper was one of the most-read articles in 2016, owing mostly to its far-reaching implications in the field of next-generation optical computers and telecommunications systems.
BALIK SCIENTIST LAW
On June 15, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Balik Scientist Law (Republic Act 11035) which would provide incentives to returning Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and engineers who would share their expertise in the country.
Observers said the new law is meant as a counterbalance to the long-term, negative effects of brain drain. It would likewise strengthen the implementation of the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program, first set up in 1975.
The successful program has already managed to entice several scientists to return to the country to mentor science and engineering students and faculty. The overall effort has substantially contributed to the fast-tracking of the scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development of the Philippines, the DOST said.
Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said that is very crucial to strengthen the Balik Scientist Program of the DOST because we have areas that lack experts such as space technology and artificial intelligence which are just starting. He believes that having enough human resource in these fields would help the country in conducting various research and development projects in these areas.
In time for the celebration of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW), the DOST announced increases in the number of slots and higher monthly stipend rates for its various scholarship programs.
DOST-Science Education Institute (SEI) Director Josette Biyo said that this year, the government has the biggest batch of new qualifiers for its undergraduate scholarship—a total of 8,9994 students. Biyo added that they are targeting 33,256 scholars by 2019.
Monthly stipends have similarly been increased to P7,000 per month from the previous P5,000-P6,000 per month. This is in addition to the P40,000 per year tuition and other school fees subsidy, P10,000 per year book allowance, one-time P1000 uniform allowance; one-time P1000 graduation allowance, one economy-class round trip fare per year for those studying outside of their home province, and group insurance.
GOLD IN MATH OLYMPIAD
The first to second week of July was a time of triumph for young Filipino mathematicians as the Philippines landed its third gold medal in the 58th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
Prestigious IMO is a world championship mathematics competition for high school students and is called the “Olympics of math competitions. The Philippines posted an impressive 38th in rank, with 107 countries competing.
De la Salle University Integrated School’s Albert John Patupat led his group and captured the gold, followed by Kyle Patrick Dulay of Philippine Science High School-main campus for the silver. IMO first-timer Emmanuel Osbert Cajayon of Emilio Aguinaldo College, along with veteran Shaquille Wyan Que of Grace Christian College, both secured Bronze Medals.
Andres Rico Gonzales III of DLSU Integrated School and Sean Anderson Ty of Zamboanga Chong Hua High School each won an Honorable Mention Award.
Meanwhile, Philippine Team collected 126 medals in the 4th Singapore International Mathematics Olympiad (SIMOC) held in Singapore, from July 7-8, 2018.
The SIMOC is a unique concept of mathematics competition since it includes interactive mathematical games and puzzle-solving, aside from solving mathematical problems.
At the 49th International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) last August, three Filipino students took the country closer to winning the gold.
Steven Reyes from St. Jude Catholic School (SJSC) took home the silver medal for the Philippines. Two more students—Mikhail Torio from the Philippine Science High School-Main campus (PSHS-MC) and Charles Bartolo, Philippine Science High School-Central Luzon Campus (PSHS-CLC) won bronze medals.
The team that competed placed 34th out of 87 delegations in this year’s IPhO. It was the best ranking in 13 years of participation, said Dr. Josette Biyo, Director of the Department of Science and Technology–Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI).
Reyes, Torio, and Bartolo ranked in the 88th, 68th, and 58th percentiles, respectively, out of a total of 396 student-delegates.
Meanwhile, the DOST’s Young Innovators Program (YIP) entered its second year, partnering with three individuals and three teams selected out of a total of 55 aspiring young innovators who submitted their research proposals.
The YIP recognizes promising researchers under the age of 30 and encourages them, by way of financial assistance, to go into scientific research.
For 2018, the three individual innovators are Gerardo Martin D. Quindoza III, Jeremy C. De Leon, and Janina M. Guarte.
The group innovators included: Philippine Science High School (PSHS)-SOCCSARGEN Campus Team, Angeles City Science High School Team, and St. Cecilia’s College-Cebu, Inc. Team. G