President Aquino III shares the stage with the 2014 Order of National Scientist awardees Drs. Edgardo Gomez, Ramon Barba, Gavino Trono, Jr., and Angel Alcala., Also in photo are DOST Secretary Mario Montejo and NAST president William Padolina. (Photo by Gil Nartea / Malacañang Photo Bureau)
Four Filipino scientists who have made outstanding contributions in marine botany, biological scinces, horticulture and marine biology were conferred the Order of National Scientist Tuesday in simple rites at Malacanang Palace.
President Benigno Aquino III gave the recognition to Angel Alcala, PhD. (for Biological Sciences); Ramon Barba, PhD.(Horticulture); Gavino C. Trono, PhD (Marine Botany); and Edgardo D. Gomez, PhD (Marine Biology) after they were endorsed by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).
The head of the NAST, biotechnology pioneer Dr. William Padolina, along with Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, witnessed the conferment.
Also witnessing the rites were the scientists' spouses: Mrs, Lety Trono, Mrs. Naomi Alcala, Dr. Corazon veron Cruz-Barba, and Ambassador Phoebe Gomez.
Alcala: marine protected zones
Alcala was honored specifically for his seminal and original research on the systematic, ecology, and diversity of Philippine amphibians and reptiles, and, marine biodiversity, reef fishes and conservation (marine-protected areas).
His studies on and advocacy of marine no-take zones led to a national policy and program that established no-take marine protective areas which has resulted in more than a thousand of such marine no-take zones in the country and has become a model of coastal resource management and conservation adopted by many countries.
No-take marine reserves allow the build-up of marine biodiversity, including fishery species as well as the export of adult fish to areas (outside of MPAs) used as fishing areas, thereby enhancing fish yields of fishers.
Barba: micropropagation of key crops
Barba received the Presidential Medallion for his distinguished achievements in the field of plant physiology, focusing on induction of flowering of mango and on micropropagation of important crop species that have earned him national and international accolades.
His pioneering work on the induction of flowering and fruiting of mango resulted in the change from seasonal supply of fresh fruits to all year round availability of abundant fresh mangoes. The regularity of mango production is the key ingredient in the development of mango exports which gave rise to an entirely new industry of processed mango products.
He developed the plant growth enhancer, FLUSH, which accelerates the growth cycle of the trees and advance their flowering and fruiting stages, to assure continuous fruit bearing of mango trees.
Gomez: pioneer in global conservation work
Gomez was honored for his outstanding contributions to science particularly his researches on marine ecosystems which became the bases for management of and the conservation programs for the country's marine resources.
Most notable among his researches have been on coral reef ecology and conservation, reestablishment of giant clam stocks, and marine science capacity enhancement.
His pioneering research works on invertebrate zoology, coral reef science and assessment, and invertebrate aquaculture, where he steered the world’s first national-scale assessment of damage to coral reefs, which brought widespread concern over the status coral reefs.
This led to worldwide conservation initiatives, such as the Global reefs and Risk Analysis, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and the International Coral Reef Action, among others.
Trono: tropical marine phycology
Trono received the Presidential Medallion for his outstanding contributions in tropical marine phycology with focus on seaweed biodiversity, biology, ecology, and culture.
He is credited with having done extensive studies on the culture of Eucheuma denticulatum, Kappaphycus alvarezii, Gracilaria spp., Caulerpa lentillifera, and Halymenia durvillei, seaweed that benefited thousands among the coastal populations.
He was the first to report the occurrence of “ice-ice” disease which has caused tremendous loss of biomass in seaweed farms.
The Order of National Scientist is the highest honor given by the President to a Filipino man or woman of science in the Philippines who has made significant contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology. (InterAksyon.com)