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Vol. XXVI, 3rd Quarter
July–September 2008
DOST fetes outstanding scholars

More than grit, intelligence can take people to a life stuffed with possibilities.

“I graduated from the province.  I never occurred to me, not even in my wildest imagination, that I will be able to study in one of the most expensive private universities in the country,” recalls Dr. Jonathan Dungca, a recipient of scholarship grant from the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development, an agency of the Department of Science and Technology.

After earning his master’s degree from De La Salle University-Manila, the school hired him as full-time faculty. He was eventually sent to Japan as a Monbukagakusho scholar. “If it was not because of DOST, all of these [experiences] would have just remained as a dream,” he said.

A well-liked adviser and mentor in DLSU, Dr. Dungca, is one of the movers of DLSU’s “Adopt-an-Engineering School Program” that fosters mentoring relationships among civil engineering faculty and students in DLSU and other schools.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera has an almost similar story. She was among the first wave of scholars of the National Science and Development Board in the early 60s. “The scholarship enabled me to finish my BS and PhD degrees in University of the Philippines Diliman,” says the Mindanao native. 

Now a scientist at the Aquaculture Department of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in Tigbauan, Iloilo, Dr. Primavera specializes in broodstock development and pond grow out culture of the shrimp Penaeus monodon. 

On the other hand, Dr. Henry J. Ramos was also NSDB scholar at UP Diliman. This physicist still strongly feels responsible to serve in the academe and the country. “The training I received through the scholarship prepared me to be a mentor,” he says.  He has provided guidance to some 30 baccalaureate theses, 25 master’s theses, and three PhD dissertation students in plasma science and technology.

DOST didn’t just show pride for these achievers.  It honored Drs. Dungca, Primavera, and Ramos along with seven other outstanding DOST scholars as 10 of the “50 Men and Women of Science” last Sept. 10 at the Manila Hotel.  The event was part of DOST’s Golden Anniversary celebration. DOST Secretary Estrella Alabastro led the conferment cerremony.

The other scholar-awardees include Dr. Fortunato Sevilla III, who was NSDB scholar in the mid-60s and earned his B.S. Chemistry, summa cum laude, from the University of Santo Tomas. He is currently dean of the University of Santo Tomas’s College of Science, and does research in instrumentation and analytical science. He has received national and international awards for his research achievements and international publications. In 2002, the Professional Regulation Commission declared him Outstanding Professional Chemist.

Dr. Delfin Jay M. Sabido IX, a DOST scholar in the mid-80s, obtained his BS Electrical Engineering summa cum laude from UP Diliman. His initiatives in information and communication technology while director of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute and concurrently director-general of the National Computer Center earned him recognition as one of 18 Luminaries in Philippine ICT in 2002.

outstanding scholars

Dr. Jose Bacusmo, president of the Visayas State University, was a scholar of DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development in the early 80s and took MS Agronomy at UP Los Baños. Dr. Bacusmo is the principal plant breeder of two cassava and five sweet potato varieties currently distributed in Region VIII and in other root crop-producing regions. He is credited for the establishment of VSU’s industry service facilities and the successful private commercial production of vacuum-fried jackfruit using VSU technology.

Dr. Elmer P. Dadios was a scholar of DOST’s Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development when he took his MS Computer Science at DLSU. Now full professor 8 at DLSU, Dr. Dadios completed projects covering artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, and the DOST TECHNICOM project “Soccer Robot System,” among others. He has won gold and silver awards in FIRA Robot World Cup in Australia in 2000.

Dr. Carmela R. Centeno was a scholar of DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development and finished her PhD in Chemical Engineering at DLSU with high distinction in early 2000s. Her research focus is on hazardous wastes degradation using advanced oxidation technologies. Her research on persistent organic pollutants earned awards from both PCIERD and the National Academy of Science and Technology.

Dr. Edward H.M. Wang is a distinguished authority in musculoskeletal tumor research. He took his MS in Clinical Epidemiology at UP Manila as a scholar of DOST’s Philippine Council on Health Research and Development. He presently heads the Philippine General Hospital’s Musculoskeletal Unit and serves as associate dean for faculty and students at UP College of Medicine.  A multi-awarded physician, Dr. Wang was one of NAST’s Ten Outstanding Young Scientists in 1997. He also received from DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines a Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine in 2007. He also bagged the DOST-PCHRD’s 2002 Outstanding Health Research Award in the Biomedical Research Category for his research “Extremity Tumors, Limb Salvage Surgery, and Bone Transplantation.”

Dr. Filipinas F. Natividad, currently the director of St. Luke’s Medical Center’s Research and Biotechnology Division was NSDB scholar when she took her BS Zoology in UP Diliman. Her expertise in research and biotechnology contributed to the establishment of the first Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory in the Philippines that made novel molecular and genetic tests available to Filipino patients. She also pioneered in the application of stem cell transplant for ocular surface disorders at SLMC.  Dr. Natividad’s research works spanning infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological diseases are published in local and international journals.

There are certainly nuggets of wisdom strewn along the path of self-actualization. “Everyone has an equal chance for a bright future,” says Dr. Dungca. “All you have to do is to really know what you want to be and what you want to have.”

The best way to return the favor to DOST, says Dr. Dungca, is to stay in the country and share what he learned. “There’s a big temptation to work abroad because scholars will be definitely earning much more in other countries. But I decided to stay because I know that I have an obligation to my fellow Filipinos, particularly in uplifting their standard of living and helping protect the environment.”

For Dr. Primavera, the youth especially those considering a career in science should be challenged to help in nation-building. She advises those who opt to go abroad for training or work to “come back and do what you are trained for. Make a contribution, big or small.”

Dr. Ramos has a matter-of-fact perspective. “Science teaches the values of humility and objectivity,” he explained. A career in S&T “arms you with the tools to pry open the infinite vistas of the unknown. No other field can give you this promise.”