Science group gives awards to 4 outstanding S&T contributions

By Ricardo D. Cruz

HIGH aims for high characters, and great objects bring out great minds. This statement supports the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science Inc. (PhilAAS) in honoring this year’s four outstanding contributors in science and technology who were acclaimed in promoting empowerment and inculcation of a culture of excellence and integrity among Filipino scientists.

According to Science Undersecretary Fortunato de la Peña, who is also the PhilAAS president, the awards recognize the Filipinos’ exceptional works in various fields of science researches that have been used widely, and the output of the researches, which made significant impact in the society and served as models for future generations.

The recognition for scientific contributions are the Gregorio Zara Award for Basic Science Research, and Applied Science Research; Paulo Campos Award for Medical Research; and Esther Vibal Award for Educational Technology Innovation. The awardees recently were presented in advance to a select group of reporters. The awarding ceremonies will be held during PhilAAS’s annual convention on September 12.

With her significant contribution in food microbiology, especially toward the solution of the aflatoxin problem in both food and feed, Dr. Ida Dalmacio is the recipient of the Gregorio Zara Award for Basic Science Research.

Dalmacio’s work on the database of microorganisms and on the chemical detoxification of aflatoxin-contaminated products, including corn, sorghum and peanut, has viewed that the application of ammonia and propionic acid to these commodities avoids mold growth and aflatoxin formation, and reduces its content in contaminated agricultural crops.

Also recognized with the Gregorio Zara Award, this time in the Applied Science Research category, Dr. Nelia Cortes-Maramba was cited for her contribution in improving health-care delivery in the country, specifically in the field of herbal medicine.

Maramba is a founding member of the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants, which is engaged in setting out the verification of curative properties of plants. She is also acknowledged for her technological support in the process of enabling pharmaceutical companies in setting a foothold of herbal medicines in the local market.

Ernesto Boydon, who has 28 years of experience in information technology (IT), was recognized with the Esther Vibal Award for his vast contribution in e-learning system.

He developed an integrated e-layer to be used as community portal on learning management systems. Boydon is also an IT educator in major universities in the country offering IT and Computer Science courses.

The Paulo Campos Award is given to Dr. Carmencita Padilla for being the brainchild of newborn screening in the country.

She advocated the enactment of Republic Act 9288, or the Newborn Screening Act, that aims early identification of infants affected by certain genetic, metabolic, or infectious conditions, which can lead to significant reduction of morbidity, mortality and disabilities in affected infants.

De la Peña explained that the association has constituted a high-powered selection committee to do its own search for possible nominees on the different awards.

Each of the awardees will receive P50,000, which, according to them, they will use in enhancing their studies and extending aid to people in need, including patients in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and students pursuing career in the field of science and technology.

“These awards serve as avenue to promote and encourage the education of the youth and the application of science and technology in everyday lives,” de la Peña said.

During the recent presentation of awardees to the media, all four are thankful to be recognized with the aspiration that their stories will touch others to perform even greater that would help in promoting the value of science to the community.

(Also published on Sunday, September 8, 2013 issue of BusinessMirror)

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