“Transformative growth through science and technology.” 

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo prodded Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP) scholars to lead the way in sustaining economic growth in the Philippines through pioneering research aimed at creating the country’s niche in the world economy. 

Speaking before the 2nd DOST-Science Education Institute’s (SEI)– ASTHRDP-National Science Consortium Scholars’ Conference, Montejo explained that the country’s focus is shifting from one that strives for an ‘information-led society’ to one that seeks the creation of a ‘smart society’; with the latter being led by science and technology. 

“A smart Philippines is one that leverages on science and technology in order to produce better products and services and in turn improve productivity and the quality of life,” said Montejo. “Through giving emphasis in the creation of Filipino-led ‘smart technologies’ like Project NOAH, we can achieve such transformation.” 

A total of 94 scholars from various S&T fields attended the Conference with the theme “Innovations to Accelerate S&T Human Resource Development.” The scholars showcased their researches through oral and poster presentations during the one-and-a-half day conference. 

Montejo said the interplay of science, creativity and perseverance has brought about success in the different projects of DOST like the DOST-led aquaculture project which succeeded to generate a 1000 percent increase in the production of shrimp, an important commodity among Filipinos. 

“By integrating science, know-how, and ICT (information and communications technology), we are able to produce such a huge growth in [the] production of shrimp. And that’s what smart technology is all about,” he added. 

In the first plenary talk, Dr. Ester Garcia, President and Chief Academic Officer of the University of the East, gave the historical background of the Science Consortium, how it has evolved through the years and the lessons learned along the way. 

As the theme centered in on innovations, National Scientist Fr. Bienvenido Nebres discussed ways on how to improve the quality of graduate programs in the country. He particularly cited reforms such as to put more emphasis on the research component of the doctorate programs as well as to integrate S&T in the early education stages which can redound to a boost in the level of research among graduate students . 

“I recommend more research and less coursework for our Ph.D. programs,” said Nebres referring to the coursework-heavy type of programs in the doctorate level. He said that such reform will urge PhD students to utilize their expertise in finding new knowledge and ultimately developing new innovations and technologies. 

Nebres also promoted the creation of research teams over individual Ph.D. research as it will encourage collective participation among experts while giving junior scientists opportunities to serve as apprentice to senior researchers. 

“Graduate students are high impact individuals and we need them to be of high quality when they practice their profession,” Nebres said. 

A panel discussion on mentorship as an important component to accelerate the HRD in S&T was led by Dr. Lourdes Cruz, President of the National Research Council of the Philippines-DOST; Dr. Florencia Claveria, Professor of the De La Salle University; and Dr. Oscar Zamora, Vice Chancellor for Instruction of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. 

Dr. Ludwig Streit, an ASTHRDP visiting professor from the Bielfeld University in Germany talked on Brownian Theory and Polymers while Dr. Evelyn Mae Mendoza, a retired research professor enlightened the audience about the ethics in research and publication. Atty. Andrew Michael Ong elucidated the value of intellectual property of science researches. 

SEI Director Dr. Filma Brawner, meanwhile, congratulated the scholars for being promoters of research and development as shown by the studies they have presented over the course of the conference. 

“The past days have shown us that you are capable in spearheading the research and development agenda of the country. Your talents are clearly of great value to the growing population as our needs in this generation have increased dramatically. We invite you to take the challenge of pursuing excellence in your fields through research,” Brawner said. 

The conference is in line with SEI’s drive to boost the country’s roster of scientists and engineers. Before the end of the conference, a call was made for papers for the 2014 scholars’ conference. (30)