BU holds welcome program for the DOST-PCHRD Balik-Scientist Awardee from the University of Tsukuba,

BU holds welcome program for the DOST-PCHRD Balik-Scientist Awardee from the University of Tsukuba,

“The stars have finally aligned,” said Dr. Myra O. Villareal, the Balik Scientist, as she was formally introduced to Bicol University (BU) on May 19, 2022 at the Aquilino P. Bonto Amphitheatre during the welcome program themed “BU-DOST Balik Scientist Program: Balik Puso, Balik Pilipinas.”

Through the initiative of the BU College of Science headed by Dean Jocelyn E. Serrano, the BU community was brought together to celebrate the first Balik Scientist Program Awardee ever granted in the Bicol region. The event was graced by some students and distinguished professors, coordinators, deans and directors from the different colleges in the university. Selected students from Institute of Physical Education Sports and Recreation (IPESR) also performed Jota de Manila and Pantomina. Some of them came personally while some attended via facebook live.

 The program started with a prayer led by Dr. Maria Teresa A. Mirandilla, faculty from the BUCS Biology Department. It was followed by the Philippine National Anthem conducted by Prof. Carina L. Sales, director of the Institute of Physical Education Sports and Recreation (IPESR). The opening remarks filled with a background of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) was given by Dr. Lilibeth A. Cajuday, head of the BUCS Biology Department. The Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Amelia A. Dorosan, set the tone of the ceremony while sharing her welcome message to everybody.

The importance and privilege of having a Balik Scientist was reiterated by President Arnulfo M. Mascariñas during his inspirational message. BU, being the first BSP host institution in the region, hopes and expects for more Balik Scientists to follow Dr. Villareal. He encouraged all the colleges to look and grab for opportunities like BSP to invite technologists and experts in their fields. The BU College of Science, for example, has secured this opportunity through the efforts of Dean Serrano.  

Dr. Myra Orlina Villareal was amiably  introduced by Dean Serrano before her talk titled “Balik Scientist Engagement at Bicol University: Balik Puso, Balik Pilipinas, Balik Bicol.” Aside from sharing her life experiences, she also presented what Balik Scientist Program (BSP) is all about. Her engagement to BU is short term, composed of three phases. The Phase 1 started on April 1, 2022, while giving lectures and seminars to BUCS MS Biology students online delivery.  To date, she is on her Phase 2 until July 30, 2022. Phase 3 will happen from September 16 to November 20, 2022.

The Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology was designed through the RA 11035 “Balik Scientist Act”. According to its declaration of policy, this is to support the participation of science, technology or innovation experts of descent in research and development initiatives for our country. These experts, also known as Balik Scientists, are Filipino citizens or a foreigner of Filipino descent, residing abroad. This program specifically aims to reverse the effect of brain drain, strengthen S&T capabilities, accelerate flow of technologies and promote knowledge sharing. 

Dr. Villareal is perfectly coming home, as she was originally a Bicolano, born in Legazpi City. While she serves as the DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientist in the Philippines, Dr. Villareal is still affiliated in the University of Tsukuba, Japan. She spent her basic education in Naga City with high honors and opportunities that led her obtained her B.S. Agriculture and M.S. Microbiology degrees from the University of the Philippines (Los Baños). She studied Ph.D. in Agriculture from the University of Tsukuba, Japan.

               Prior to her education and work in Japan, Dr. Villareal worked as a University Research Associate I in Biofertilizer/Agri Lab and Genetics Lab at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH)-UPLB. She was also a Quality Control Manager and Assistant Quality Assurance Manager at Peter Paul Philippine Corporation. She was an instructor at the Biology Department of Ateneo de Manila. At present, she works as a faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences in the University of Tsukuba with affiliations to Alliance for Research on Mediterranean and North Africa and School of Integrative and Global Majors (SIGMA). She has collaborated with Japanese industries in research and development of natural products.

With her expertise in  cell biology  and functional food science and the prospect of BU becoming the Center for Research on Functional Food  through the DOST PCHRD NICER Health program,  a dream for an income-generating mammalian cell culture assay laboratory will be established. This short stint of Dr. Villareal was also co-hosted by the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) and Manila (UPM) to establish a collaboration that will further improve BU’s capacity for instruction and research.  To accomplish these deliverables,  Dr. Villareal has planned a series of activities such as functional food webinars, faculty and student mentorship, research proposal preparation, and publication of research output with the faculty of BU, UPLB, and UPM.

               The program was successfully concluded with the positive response of Prof. Charmaine A. Malonzo, a faculty of the BUCS Biology Department, and the acknowledgment of Dr. Raymond S. Regalia, program adviser of the MS Biology program. Indeed, this is a fantastic way to rekindle BU’s enthusiasm for science research and development.

/Jocelyn E. Serrano & Eliza Joyce M. Perillo

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Mining corps donate research lab equipment to BU

Mining corps donate research lab equipment to BU

Through the Office of the Vice President for Research, Development, and Extension (OVPRDE) and College of Science (CS), the Masbate Gold Project (MGP), in collaboration with Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC), Philippine Gold Processing & Refining Corp. (PGPRC), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) V, has donated environmental research laboratory equipment during the turnover ceremonies held at the CS Building 3, on June 1, 2022.

The research program on the Assessment of the Potential Accumulation, Dispersion, Routes, and Plants Uptake of Lead Contained at Masbate Gold Project Tailings Storage Facility, also known as the “Pb Project,” is a collaborative undertaking of the aforementioned partner institutions. With two major projects covering eight studies, a total of eight faculty researchers are engaged in the activity from 2019 to March 2022.

The event was conducted to give due recognition and gratitude to the funding and support agencies for the realization of the research program and jointly sign the deed of donation and acceptance of both parties. Present were Dr. Luis O. Amano, Vice President for Research, Development, and Extension, Dr. Myra O. Villareal, DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientist, Prof. Jocelyn E. Serrano, Dean of the BU College of Science, Prof. Phil V. Morano, Natural Science Laboratory Coordinator, Engr. Geronimo C. Badulis, Jr., Resident Manager of MGP-PGRPRC-FRC, Engr. Audie M. Altiche, Environmental Manager of MGP-PGPRC-FRC, and Ms. Arlene E. Dayao, Chief Geologist of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau V (DENR-MGB V).

It was also attended by the program staff headed by its program leader, Prof. Maria Crispina P. Baltazar, the Deans and Directors from the different colleges and units, faculties and other researchers.

The action-cum research program is an ongoing-research undertaking of the university which was officially launched last April 1, 2019, funded by MGP/FRC/PGPRC, and in collaboration with DENR-MGB V. Several laboratory, office, and sampling equipment were purchased and provided by the funding agency to facilitate the program implementation.

The laboratory equipment housed at the College of Science Building 3 Room 101 includes the analytical balance, laboratory oven, refrigerator, sieve shaker, and other laboratory glassware, providing a more precise and reliable laboratory analysis for the conduct of the studies. Sediment and water samplers were also provided and these have made the on-site collection easier, ensuring a more accurate sample collection.

With this additional laboratory equipment, it becomes possible for the university to conduct more researches that will need these new facilities while bringing service to students and other researchers in terms of instruction and extension.

The research program was initially under the leadership of BUCS faculty Prof. Michael V. Montealegre with three projects dealing with focus on the use of lead nitrate. The program plays an important role in the planning for rehabilitation and closure purposes of the mining operation.

In March 2020, the country went through strict lockdown due to the pandemic. Thus, the research team were not able to proceed with their planned activities. An extension was requested and approved in order to finish the program with only two remaining projects which started last July 2021, and with a new Program Leader, Prof. Maria Crispina P. Baltazar, Director of the Bicol University Regional Center for Food Safety and Quality Assurance.

The current program involves (9) faculty researchers. Project 1 is headed by Prof. Kimbhierly M. Ludovice (BUCS) with Prof. Michael V. Montealegre (BUCS), Prof. Ivane N. Malaluan (BUCS), Prof. Magnolia Vida A. Cano (BUCS), Prof. Kent Andrew B. Llamson (BURCFSQA), and Prof. Jocelyn E. Serrano (BUCS) as the study leaders. Meanwhile, Project 2 is under the leadership of Prof. Baltazar with Prof. Ma. Corazon B. Barrameda (BUCS) and Prof. Kenneth N. Nacional (BUEMD) as the study leaders. The program also hired two research assistants and a program management coordinator to ensure the smooth implementation of the program. The program is expected to be completed by the end of June 2022. (prepared by Kent Andrew Llamson and Maria Crispina Baltazar, BUCS)

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To prevent soil parasite infestation, CS-Bio dept advocates hygiene, sanitation in Manito, Albay

Gives sanitary kits, footwear to residents

In its goal to promote proper sanitation and personal hygiene to children and parents of barangays Manumbalay and Malobago, Manito, Albay, Bicol University College of Science (BUCS) – Biology Department, through Project SoleMate, in partnership with BU Symbiosis and in coordination with the Rural Health Unit of Manito, conducted an outreach project on “PrACTiCE Extension Program: Proper Handwashing and Sanitation Seminar and Distribution of Slippers and Hygiene Kits,” which took place on September 7, 2022.

The department traveled to barangay Manumbalay, Manito, in the morning, and continued the activity in the afternoon to barangay Malobago, Manito.

The outreach program aims to prevent and control soil-transmitted parasite infestations in Manito, Albay. Ascaris lumbricoides, also known simply as “Ascaris,” whipworm (Trichuris trichiura), and hookworm (Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus) are examples of the intestinal worms that infect humans and are spread through contaminated soil.

The majority of cases of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection are found in warm, humid settings with inadequate sanitation and hygiene, including temperate zones during the warm months. These STHs are categorized as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) because they can cause severe health conditions yet are treatable or curable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But in order to prevent these infestations in the target communities, Prof. Phil V. Morano, PrACTiCE program leader, led a proper handwashing demonstration to the children ages 1-7 years old in both barangays and engaged them with parlor games and rewards.

Afterward, a brief seminar on common plants with anthelminthic properties, used to treat infections caused by parasitic worms, was also discussed for the parent’s awareness. They also received educational fliers about anthelmintic plants.

The organizers then gave out slippers and hygiene supplies to the children, since they are more prone to contracting STHs, while being assisted by their guardians.

The project would not be possible without the support of the BS Biology students and alumni, who donated the footwear and sanitary kits, and Prof. Jocelyn E. Serrano, CS Dean, who helped in the distribution of slippers and kits as well as the discussion in the anthelmintic plants, together with the BUCS faculty members, personnel, student leaders, and volunteers. | written by Arnold C. Noda, CPRO

Photo courtesy of the BU Symbiosis

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