November 06, 2016

Filipina scientists receive Gregorio Y. Zara Award for plant research

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  • Two scientists recently received awards for their novel research on plants endemic to the Philippines.

    Dr. Maribel Nonato and Dr. Rizalinda de Leon were presented by the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology (PhilAAST) after both received the Gregorio Y. Zara Awards for Basic and Applied Research.

    nonato

    DR. MARIBEL NONATO. Hailed as “Pandan Queen” by her students in UST, she was awarded the Gregorio Y. Zara Award for Basic Research because of her pioneering research on the Philippine pandan.

    Dr. Nonato, the Vice Rector for Research and Innovation at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), received the award for Basic Research because of her pioneering work on Phytochemistry and biological activities of Philippine genus Pandanus, known locally as pandan or screwpine.

    Pandan used to be nothing more than an aromatic for sweets and beverages until Nonato started her research in 1991, paving the way for exploring the plant’s potential as a source for anti-microbial, anti-viral, diuretic, anti-tubercular, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agents. She even gained the moniker “Pandan Queen” from her students due to her extensive knowledge and research on the plant.

    de-leon

    DR. RIZALINDA DE LEON. Dean of UP College of Engineering, Dr. de Leon’s work on using fungi for bioethanol production instead of corn and other food-based crops.

    Dr. Rizalinda de Leon, Dean of the University of the Philippine (UP) College of Engineering, was given the award for Applied Research for her work on bioethanol production, particularly in using local varieties of fungi as alternative sources of ethanol additives that will replace food-based crops such as corn.

    According to de Leon, corn and other food-based raw materials could threaten the country’s food security, leading her to look at using Fusarium moniliforme, one of the most prevalent fungi in the country, as a source of ethanol. She used a consolidated bioprocessing approach that extracts the ethanol from solid Fusarium.

    The bioprocess provides the fermentation which results in the production of a substance with a higher ethanol concentration in a shorter amount of time.

    Gregorio Y. Zara is a National Scientist of the Philippines who invented the first two-way videophone. The award named after him is conferred by PhilAAST annually to men and women who have contributed new knowledge for the advancement of science and technology in the country. Awardees receive P50,000 cash and a plaque of recognition.

     

    All photos taken by Henry De Leon, S&T Media Service, grabbed from DOST.gov.ph

    Source: The Philippine Star, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Information Agency, ABS-CBN News

               
               
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