Five newly conferred SCS scientists were sworn in by Civil Service Commission and Scientific Career Council Chairperson Hon. Alicia dela Rosa-Bala together with National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) President and SCC Member Dr. Christina A. Binag, DOST Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services (for Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST, and Ex-Officio Co-Chairman, SCC) Usec. Carol M. Yorobe, and SCC Executive Secretary and Director IV of NAST PHL Dir. Luningning E. Samarita-Domingo during the remarkable ceremony held on June 19, 2017 at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City. The newly conferred scientists, Dr. Rosalinda C. Torres, Dr. Annabelle V. Briones and Dr. Marissa A. Paglicawan are from the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) while Ms. Glenda B. Obra and Mr. Fernando B. Aurigue are from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

DOST Secretary and Scientific Career Council Ex-Officio Co-Chairman, Sec. Fortunato T. de la Peña, through his representative DOST Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services, Usec. Carol M. Yorobe, stated that the scientist title does not only convey research authority, but also reflects hardwork and dedication. He commended the commitments of our scientists to the advancement of science and technology to our country. With the conferment of scientists from ITDI and PNRI, he hoped that they were able to encourage more highly productive research personnel from science and technology community of DOST and non-DOST agencies to join the Scientific Career System. Furthermore, he looked forward in increasing the number of career scientists from different institutions and their strategic collaborations to our recumbent science and technology. He also thanked fellow administrators for their continuous support and providing best opportunities to enhance productivity making our scientists, strong pillars of science as well as functioning public servants.

CSC and SCC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala, regarded the scientists group as hardest workers. They are generally observed to have the tendency to become over achievers and most of the people in the field of science have the wisdom to work doubly hard to overcome perceived advocacies and to prove their worth. She accentuated that scientists are exceptional not just because they are brilliant but because of their work ethics. She emphasized the role of the SCS as a tool to upgrade the competence of the country’s human capital in the field of science and technology.

Presenting the Newly Conferred Scientists

DR. ANNABELLE V. BRIONES, is currently the Research and Development Deputy Director at the Industrial Technology Development Institute, Department of Science and Technology. Her fields of expertise are in chemistry and engineering.

Dr. Briones has undertaken researches for more than two decades on carrageenan and its derivatives and complexes, their characterization and various applications, especially in drug and gene delivery and as an anti-bacterial surface coating. Her studies showed that the addition of iota-carrageenan to pDNA-PEI (polyethyleneimine) complex increased the stability of pDNA/PEI complex, decreased its cytotoxic effects and protected the DNA from degradation without losing its efficiency for gene expression in various mammalian cells tested. She further demonstrated that chitosan/carrageneenan complexes can protect the integrity of proteins under acidic conditions, thus, showing that this easy to make complex a promising drug delivery system for oral administration of peptides and drugs. Furthermore, Dr. Briones provided evidence that carrageenan formed multi-layers with PEI which had antibacterial activity. She also found two oligosaccharides she extracted from carrageenan to be efficient in encapsulating bovine serum albumin and could be used for protein delivery. Her other significant works are the development of hard carrageenan for which she obtained a local patent and the development of the DOST Mosquito OL Trap system to help reduce mosquito densities and dengue transmissions.

DR. ROSALINDA C. TORRES, is presently the Standards and Testing Division Chief at the Industrial Technology Development Institute, Department of Science and Technology. Her fields of expertise are natural products chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry.

Dr. Torres has conducted researches on natural products that have resulted in the development of health supplements, personal care products, and plant products with insectidal properties. She led the researches that developed guyabano health supplements, anti-diabetic dietary supplements, protocols for pectin production from calamansi and mango, and standardized herbal processing technology. Her work on essential oils has resulted in essential oil extraction technology, novel analgesic products (balm, gel and massage oil), and mosquito repellant which are all supported by needed biological and clinical trials. These technologies are covered by Utility Model registrations and have been widely disseminated to various stakeholders and clientele through training workshops and brochures. More recently, she and co-workers identified five plants with larvicidal, ovicidal, and adulticidal activities for the control of mosquito dengue vector and have developed products for which several patents have been applied for.

DR. MARISSA A. PAGLICAWAN, is presently the Head of the Advanced Materials Section - Materials Science Division at the Industrial Technology Development Institute, Department of Science and Technology. Her field of specialization is materials science. Dr. Paglicawan has done significant researches on natural fibers reinforced composites, biodegradable polymers, polymer nanocomposites, and rubber recycling for the past two decades.

Her work on natural fibers composites composed of natural fibers such as pineapple fibers, sisal, ramie, loofah and flax, and agricultural wastes such as coir dust, coconut fibers, bagasse, and rice straw in thermoset and thermoplastic matrices showed that such composites had mechanical properties comparable with those of synthetic fiber. With co-workers, she further showed that other processing techniques such as chemical treatment (alkali, plasma, and peroxide), using various molding techniques, and produced composites with good mechanical properties. Her work on biodegradable plastics started in 1997, has resulted in the development of biodegradable thermoplastic starch from native starch which was further improved with the addition of polylactic acid. Her team has produced nanoclay which has been incorporated in the biodegradable plastic to reinforce its properties. This technology is now awaiting patent approval and commercial production. Dr. Paglicawan has also been involved in the development and characterization of polymer nanocomposites such as exfoliated graphite nanoplatelets-thermoplastic elastomer nanocomposites, and nanocomposite polymer gels which could be used as artificial muscle. Dr. Paglicawan has been granted a utility model for a technology for the production of recycled rubber tiles and paving block from rubber wastes (old tires etc.) in 2013 with mechanical strength, chemical, and weather resistance properties appropriate for indoor and outdoor uses.

MS. GLENDA B. OBRA, is presently the Supervising Science Research Specialist at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), Department of Science and Technology. Her field of specialization is Radiation Entomology and Integrated Pest Management.

Ms. Obra has conducted significant researches in the control of insect pests using various biological, physical, and radiation methods of treatment for the past 25 years. For her MS thesis, she studied the biological control of citrus scale insects using the insect parasitoid Aphytis spp. She studied the biology and established the mass-rearing in the laboratory of different species of Aphytis and conducted field releases of Aphytis lingnanensis against California red scale and snow scales. Ms. Obra was involved in establishing a treatment protocol on Extended Water Dip (EHWD) which replaced the more expensive quarantine treatment, Vapor Heat Treatment (VHT). This lessened the cost of quarantine treatment and enabled export of mangoes to China. In 1998, Ms. Obra led the project on the mass production and irradiation of oriental fruit fly to produce sterile fruit flies which were released weekly in Guimaras Island. This collaborative project between PNRI and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)-Integrated Mango and Development Center from 1999 to 2004 was one of the major factors that facilitated the export of Guimaras mango to the USA and Australia starting in 2004. More recently, Ms. Obra and co-workers established the radiation dose for quarantine treatment of mango pulp weevil (MPW), Sternochetus frigidus Fabr. for Philippine mango. This was the first study on the irradiation of MPW and provided the scientific basis utilized by the USDA in including the irradiation treatment at 165 Gy as an option to mitigate the risk associated with S. frigidus for fresh mangoes from the Philippines.

MR. FERNANDO B. AURIGUE, is presently the Senior Science Research Specialist at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), Department of Science and Technology. His field of specialization is Horticultural Plant Breeding and Plant Tissue Culture.

Mr. Aurigue has contributed significantly to the study and popularization of Philippine Hoyas and the development of new mutant varieties of ornamental plants for more than 15 years. Mr. Aurigue started work on the Hoyas in 2004 and led the DOST-PNRI Hoya project started in 2007 which successfully collected 305 living accessions of Hoya comprised of 91 identified native species, 61 unidentified native species, and 36 species from other countries, 3 of which are still unidentified. These collections are now being maintained at the PNRI. Various traits of the collection were characterized systematically, including the details of the pollinarium under the microscope, to identify correctly closely related species, and the colors of their flowers which demonstrated diversity among the different species. Propagation methods were established for species with commercial value. These are documented in the book “A Collection of Philippine Hoyas and their Culture” published by PCAARRD in 2013. Further studies are being done on the propagated Hoya plants to study their chemical constituents and the results have been published just recently (2015-2017). Mr. Aurigue also discovered Hoya cutis-porcelana Suarez, J. R. Sahagun & Aurigue, the first Philippine endemic hoya species with all-Filipino authors, on Biliran Island and Samar Island. Mr. Aurigue has also developed five mutant varieties of ornamental plants such as Spathoglottis orchids, foliage-type anthuriums and Hoyas, and after several years of generation advancement and genetic stability testing, three varieties, namely, Sword of Ibe (Sansevieria trifasciata), Golden Stairs (Freycinetia mulutiflora), and Afable (Cordyline ‘Kiwi’) which were successfully registered with the NSIC and the FAO/IAEA MVD. He has been involved in the popularization of and dissemination of information on the Philippine Hoyas, the development of ornamental plant varieties by irradiation, and conservation and sustainable use of these plant genetic resources through articles and lectures he has given locally and outside the country.