Young Pinoy scientists take center stage during the Earth Day celebration of NAST PHL

by Admin-Phmp

By Caryl Maria Minette I. Ulay

An advance advocacy demonstration for the World’s Earth Day celebration was conducted by the National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) of the Philippines (NAST PHL) through the 2023 NAST Environmental Science Award (NESA) Paper Presentation and Awarding Ceremony and the NAST Talent Search for Young Scientists on April 21, 2023, at the Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, via Zoom and Facebook live.

In 2001, the NAST-Hugh Greenwood Environmental Science Award now known as NESA, was organized by the NAST President and National Scientist, Perla Santos-Ocampo, with the help of the Children’s Research Fund and philanthropist Dr. Hugh Greenwood.

The recognition pursuit is undertaken to commend remarkable scientific and technological studies with a notable share in protecting and conserving the natural resources of the country. This year’s award was claimed by physicist Dr. Draneb Earl O. Juanico, who conquered the title against six other proficient nominees that underwent rigorous selection and deliberation of the NESA board of judges.

The awarding ceremony was graced by academician Jaime C. Montoya, president of NAST PHL. Academician Montoya warmly expressed his appreciation for the flourishing support and partnership of the government and non-government agencies, academe, and private sectors in implementing projects and policies to mitigate the impacts of catastrophes and environmental degradation.

“Congratulations to our awardee. I hope you will inspire other scientists, especially the young, to pursue careers in science that are meaningful to society and our country,” insinuates Academician Montoya to the adjudged awardee, Dr. Juanico. Another pat on the back and golden advice was left for the awardee by Dr. Rhodora V. Azanza. “Serve your science and most importantly serve the people especially here in the Philippines” said Dr. Azanza who is also a NESA recipient.

“We commend the hard work of our environmental advocates who protect and conserve our natural resources. We honored them by their strong support to defend and preserve our environment,” said Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. in his message delivered by NAST Director Luningning Samarita-Domingo.

The center of the event was Dr. Draneb Earl O. Juanico uncovering the findings of his winning study titled “Does Mangrove Restoration Imply Coastal Protection?” which may ride on the height of matters in rehabilitation projects of affected areas in the Visayas due to Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda and the controversial “Dolomite Beach” in Manila Bay, along Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila.

Using drones, the group led by Dr. Juanico simulated scenarios involving mangrove trees known as Rhizopora spp. around two coastal sites in Leyte and Iloilo that have been struck by storm surges driven by category five storm winds.

The visual presentation of the simulation revealed that Rhizopora spp. can serve as a “green barrier” with sustainable bio-shield characteristics. It help protected areas dry down quickly after being submerged by storm surges compared to those areas without mangroves. 

“Mangroves tend to counter the current of the wind and waves to prevent its direct impact and heavy swell to nearby coastal towns. This implies faster recovery and restoration of damages to coastal communities,” explained Dr. Juanico.

Mangroves are expected to be fully established after 20–25 years, which caused debate among policymakers and stakeholders and also among some participants during the open forum. According to Dr. Juanico, the maturing stage of mangroves may be accelerated by using new technologies. Aside from this, he mentioned that mangroves can be a good breeding place for shrimp and crabs that can nourish fishing communities and increase economic returns, which is an encouraging point for the investment.

Furthermore, the awardee expressed his intention to build a mobile application as a way to communicate with stakeholders regarding the essential information drawn from their study.

“Later on, we look forward to building an app that can visually project the simulation. We want to show where mangroves are located, how they should be cultivated, and other helpful information to utilize it for coastal protection,” uttered Dr. Juanico about the way forward of the study.

The winner of 2023 NESA bags a cash prize, a dazzling plaque of recognition, and a Php 2 million research grant from the DOST.

Meanwhile, the afternoon session was allotted to the NAST Talent Search for Young Scientists participated in by seven young and brilliant researchers from different universities and from the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI).

This initiative of NAST is a strategy to drive young people into S&T career path. “You are all winners. Although we still have to choose based on priorities, I can see that the future of science is in good hands” said National Scientist Raul V. Fabella, appreciating the finalists in his message.

All of the finalists were given a chance to present their paper and refuted lingering queries from the judges and participants. The outstanding paper was scheduled to be announced on July 17, 2023 during the NAST annual scientific meeting. For now, they were given certificates for their successful presentations.

The winner of the NAST Talent Search for Young Scientists will be rewarded with P500,000 research grant from the Department of Science and Technology. (PR)

You may also like