Seven of this year’s 11 Outstanding Young Scientists named by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) are alumni of the University of the Philippines (UP). Four are on the faculty, and one is a researcher at the University. The awarding ceremony was held on July 14 during the Academy’s 44th Annual Scientific Meeting at the Manila Hotel.
UP had honorees in five of the six award categories.
For Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Darlon V. Lantican, a university researcher at the UP Los Baños (UPLB) Institute of Plant Breeding, was recognized for contributing to the advancement of “Philippine agriculture research on major crop species, and their interacting pest and pathogens, through the utilization of genomics and bioinformatics research tools.” His work provides the necessary information to “address crop production threats, ” strengthening the country’s food systems as it deals with ongoing and future effects of climate change. Dr. Lantican earned his BS in Agricultural Biotechnology in 2012 and an MS in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in 2018 from UPLB.
In the same category, another UPLB alumnus, Dr. Roscinto Ian C. Lumbres of the Benguet State University College of Forestry, was cited for his pioneering research initiatives on the “growth modeling” of Pinus kesiya (Benguet pine), a unique forest ecosystem in the Philippines. Lumbres was also recognized for his works on biodiversity and carbon stock assessment of unique forest ecosystems to protect our biodiversity better and mitigate climate change through forest protection.” Dr. Lumbres graduated with a BS Forestry degree in 2006 and is a lecturer at the UP Baguio, Department of Biology. He earned his Ph.D. in Forest Resources Management from Kongju National University, South Korea, in 2003.
One of the two recipients in the Engineering Sciences and Technology category was Dr. Arnel B. Beltran of the De La Salle University Gokongwei College of Engineering, a BS Chemical Engineering graduate of UPLB (2005). Beltran was cited for his pioneering work on “membrane science and technology, material engineering and water, and wastewater research. His studies led to several research publications and innovation projects which respond to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) on the provision of water and sanitation for all.” Dr. Beltran received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology in 2012 from Myongji University, South Korea.
Dr. Ronnie E. Baticulon, a pediatric neurosurgeon at the UP Philippine General Hospital and an Anatomy professor at the UP Manila (UPM) College of Medicine (UPCM), was one of the two awardees in the Health Category. The NAST recognized his “outstanding contributions in global neurosurgery, pediatric neurosurgery, and medical education.” His research projects “aim to estimate the burden of neurosurgical diseases and identify barriers to neurosurgical care worldwide.” Together with his clinical practice, his body of work is guided by his “aspiration to be able to provide essential neurosurgical care to all Filipinos who need it, particularly the underserved.” Baticulon is also a Palanca award-winning author. His book, Some Days You Can’t Save Them All, was shortlisted for the National Book Awards. Dr. Baticulon was an Oblation Scholar admitted to UPCM’s seven-year Integrated Liberal Arts and Medicine (INTARMED) Program in 2001, earning his BS Basic Medical Sciences degree cum laude in 2005 and his MD cum laude in 2008.
The lone awardee in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences category was Dr. Allan Christopher C. Yago of the UP Diliman (UPD) Institute of Chemistry. He was cited for his work on “local research and development of chemical and biochemical sensors for the detection of contaminants in food and biomolecules for health applications” and for the establishment of the Sensor Materials Development and Electrochemical Analysis Laboratory in UPD, which “has trained students in the areas of sensors and electrochemical analysis.” Dr. Yago earned his degrees, BS Chemistry, cum laude, in 2005; MS Chemistry in 2010; and Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2014 from UPD.
This year’s honorees in the Social Sciences are also from UP. Dr. Michael Ralph M. Abrigo, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), was honored for contributing significantly to “the study of the welfare implications of population change, to the use of quasi-experimental techniques to evaluate government interventions, and to the development of statistical tools for the use of other researchers.” In addition, his “suite of general-use statistical application programs implementing homogenous panel vector autoregression has allowed wider use of the technique in many different settings, including in economics, political science, and psychology.” Dr. Abrigo graduated from UP Manila (UPM) [Ed: the first reference, spell it out. UP Mindanao?] in 2008 with a BA Development Studies degree, magna cum laude. In 2012, he earned his Master of Statistics degree from UP Diliman (UPD), and in 2016, he received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Dr. Paul Gideon D. Lasco, MD, a UPD senior lecturer of Anthropology and UP College of Medicine (UPCM) affiliate faculty, was the other Outstanding Young Scientist for Social Sciences. He was honored for his work “in bridging the social sciences and medicine, in applying his research methods and perspectives to relevant medical and social issues in the Philippines, and for effectively communicating scientific knowledge—both from the broader research community and from his work—to the Filipino public.” In addition, he “has published critical analyses of the COVID-19 pandemic and introduced the concepts of ‘medical populism’ and ‘pharmaceutical messianism’ to global public health.” Dr. Lasco is also a research fellow at the Ateneo de Manila University Development Studies Program. He was admitted to the UP INTARMED Program in 2003, earning his BS in Basic Medical Sciences degree in 2007 and an MD in 2010. He also became the first graduate of UPCM’s MS Medical Anthropology degree program in 2014. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam in 2017.
According to the NAST, the Outstanding Young Scientist must not have reached the age of 41 during the year of the award and must have made outstanding contributions to fields in Agricultural Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering Sciences and Technology, Health Sciences, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences. The recipients received a trophy, a monetary prize of P150,000, and a P1 million research grant from the Department of Science and Technology for an approved proposal.
With reports from the UP Office of Alumni Relations.