University of the Philippines Los Baños
Horizon online
The UPLB Horizon is a newspaper/magazine that features articles on instruction, research and public service initiatives and programs, as well as information of general interest to UPLB and its publics. Some articles that are featured in it appear on the UPLB website. For contributions, email [email protected].

 

Pages of history of both the University and the country were revisited when UPLB officials welcomed the members of the prominent Laurel clan on Sept. 2 for the launching of the Jose Sotero Laurel III Professorial Chair in Agribusiness.

The 1.5 million-peso grant is named after Amb. Jose Sotero Laurel III, the second child of the late president Jose P. Laurel (Second Philippine Republic, 1943-1945). Mr. Francis C. Laurel, son of Amb. Laurel and president and chief executive officer of YKK Philippines, conceptualized of and sponsored the said professorial chair in honor of his father on his centennial birth anniversary. The chair, which recognizes his father’s contribution to business and management, aims to support lectures on persistent and emerging issues in agribusiness development.

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Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, director of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) was awarded the Outstanding Science Administrator Award or DL Umali Medal, which recognizes S&T or R&D administrators from the academe, private sector, or government. These administrators have made significant contributions to science and technology through effective management and implementation of plans and programs.

From July 2010 to July 2013, BIOTECH streamlined its research agenda, implemented a significant number of projects, increased its research funds, and enhanced its operational efficiency. To implement all these, Dr. Ebora acknowledges the support of the BIOTECH personnel, University administration, and the DOST, DA, and DENR.

BIOTECH streamlined its research agenda to establish interdisciplinary programs, focusing on agricultural productivity, environmental protection, food security and safety, health promotion, and the prudent use of natural resources. Consequently, it reorganized and renamed its research programs.

At present, the Institute is implementing 120 projects under its various biotechnology programs on agriculture and forestry; food, feed and specialty products; environmental and industrial biotechnology; bioinformatics and drug discovery; communication and technology utilization; and its services units.

To fill the gap in research, the Institute established new laboratories, the Bioinformatics Laboratory and the Nanotechnology Laboratory, and strengthened the Genetics and Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Under Dr. Ebora’s leadership, external funding support for BIOTECH projects increased by 225% in 2011 and by 170% in 2012, bringing in additional research funds of more than PhP 45M in 2011 and over PhP 116 M in 2012.

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Her researches have helped us build our defenses against environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and increased vulnerability to environmental risks and hazards.

Hence, for Dr. Damasa “Demi” Magcale-Macandog, professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences, the 2014 Environmental Science Award of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) is well deserved.

In particular, Dr. Macandog was recognized for leading a multidisciplinary research program that looked into various issues on the linkage between environmental degradation of the country’s largest freshwater body, Laguna de Bay, and food and human health.

The Laguna LakeHEAD Program on Managing Environmental Risks for Sustainable Food and Health Security in Watershed Planning in Laguna Lake Region found that pollution caused by urbanization and development have degraded the environment in Laguna Lake. Hence, she and her team have recommended strategies to rehabilitate the lake and to address the problem to prevent dire impacts on public health and food security.

Currently, a project component of the nationwide program “Detailed Resources Assessment Using Light Detection and Ranging (Phil-LiDAR-2)” is keeping Dr. Macandog busy.

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Four years ago, Dr. Fernando Chinte Sanchez, Jr., associate professor of landscape horticulture at the College of Agriculture (CA), designed and decorated the stage of Quirino Grandstand in Manila for the then inauguration of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010. Fast forward to Oct. 29, 2014, and Dr. Sanchez found himself standing on a beautifully designed stage at the Makiling Botanic Gardens (MBG) Pavilion where he took his oath as the ninth chancellor of UPLB.

By holding the turnover and his oath-taking ceremony at the MBG, Chancellor Sanchez was paying tribute to the memory of his grandfather, Dr. Felix Oraa Chinte, Sr. Dr. Chinte started the teaching vocation in the Chinte-Sanchez family as a pioneer faculty member at the then College of Forestry.

In his first official address as UPLB Chancellor, Chancellor Sanchez recalled how he accompanied his grandfather to Mount Makiling during the latter’s field works. In these trips, he witnessed the old man’s dedication, perseverance, and commitment to the University.

Who would have thought that by inspiring teachers in his family, one of them would rise to the highest position in UPLB? Dr. Chinte would have been proud of how Chancellor Sanchez enjoined the UPLB constituents to perform their roles towards making UPLB a globally competitive research university.

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(Screengrab from Bandila News Program, ABS-CBN)

 

“Creativity is to see what everybody else has seen but to think what nobody else has thought.” -Albert Einstein

This favorite quote of Dr. Ramon C. Barba, newly conferred National Scientist of the Philippines, describes his lifework.

His colleagues in the scientific community attest to “his ability to perceive simple solutions to complex problems and to produce results with minimum expenditure and gadgetry.”

Take the case of his major research – the discovery of mango flower induction by potassium nitrate (KNO3). This discovery, according to mango expert Nestor Bondad, “is considered internationally as the most significant breakthrough in mango research” and “a milestone in the study of tropical tree physiology”. Hence, Dr. Barba is known as the “Mango Hero.”

The mango technology is important because the few research breakthroughs in the past 50 years with far-reaching implications in agriculture concentrated on breeding new plant varieties of major cereals.

Dr. Barba’s discovery of KN03 was on the neglected area of systematic plant growth control, that is, to alter plant behavior in order that they can be more productive under existing farming technology.

From a PhP500 research budget in the 1970s, Dr. Barba’s solution to mango’s seasonal, biennial and erratic fruit-bearing habits provided the main stimulus for the development of the now multi-billion peso mango industry in the Philippines and in tropical countries.

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