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Vol. XXVI, 4th Quarter
October – December 2008

DOST's Balik Scientist Program
Brain Gain

At a time when a sizeable portion of the country’s brain and brawn goes overseas, returning Filipino scientists who share their expertise with home based counterparts is a cool change.

“Instead of stopping our scientists from being trained or from working abroad, we encourage them to go back,” Department of Science and Technology Asst. Sec. Maria Lourdes Orijola says. “This is called ‘brain cycle.’” Orijola manages DOST’s Balik Scientist Program.

Since BSP’s revitalization in 2007, about 40 foreign-based scientists went back and shared their expertise to the academe, research institutions, and general public.

DOST Sec. Estrella Alabastro said it is important for scientists to go abroad for training, work, or education “because they learn new things.”

“If they don’t go out, they will not be in the same level of competence as what they have now,” Alabastro noted. Since the country’s level of development is dependent on the level of development of our scientists and engineers, it is important that they are at par with foreign counterparts, she adds.

Professional groups such as the Philippine American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) recommend Balik Scientists to DOST. When accepted into the program, Balik Scientists are posted in research institutions or universities doing research, teaching, or holding seminars, forums, lectures, and other related activities.

Such knowledge sharing process enhances the country’s science and technology workers in the academe and in private and public institutions, Orijola explains. This will hasten the flow of technologies and fire up the  development of new and important technologies that the country needs for development and progress, she adds.

Current priorities under the program are scientists in the fields of alternative energy, biotechnology, information and communication technology, environment, and health and medical products. Balik scientists can opt to go on long-term two-year or short-term month-long program. The short-term scheme can be availed several times and accommodates scientists who have difficulty in staying away from their overseas stations for long periods.

“We have loosened up several requirements to make (BSP) invitations easier,” Orijola reveals.

The staggered short-term arrangement is an example of said adjustments. In special cases, the BSP already considers scientists without graduate degrees but with highly specialized skills that are in line with DOST’s priority areas.

However, the BSP does not accept applicants who are recipients of other grants that require them to come back to the country except when they are holders or exchange visitor’s visa, such as J-1 of the US, or when a scientist’s training was self-solicited with no fi nancial or service obligation with any private or public institution in the country.

[For application criteria, requirements and procedures, and other information, please contact the Balik Scientist Program secretariat at telefax (+632) 837-2940, or email bsp@dost.gov.ph or balikscientist@yahoo.com, or log on to http://bsp.dost.gov.ph, or write the Balik Scientist Program, Office of the Assistant Secretary, DOST Compound, Gen. Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City.