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Botany in UPLB (1910-2010)
Dr. Milagrosa Martinez-Goss
Ph.D. Botany '76
She described her research work on diatoms like it were her first love. Passion is written all over her face and her eyes glow as a swarm of fireflies do on a moonless night. Dr. Milagrosa Martinez-Goss is dubbed the “great algal-agriculturist of the sea” for her work on diatoms and algal taxonomy, a field dominated by foreign researchers.
She says that her love for diatoms started in one of the classes of former professor, Dr. Gregorio T. Velasquez, where she was enrolled. His lessons inspired her to pursue research on these seemingly small but interesting producers of the food pyramid. When she was doing her PhD. dissertation, she found that the algal flora in Laguna consisted of diatoms. “But it was difficult for me to identify them. I had to read and study on my own, because most books and papers written on diatoms were done by foreign scientists. It impressed me that there were so many diatoms in Laguna de Bay but they were not studied,” she says. Thus started her long but untiring quest for knowledge of diatoms.
According to Dr. Martinez-Goss, the larvae of tiger prawns feed on diatoms. Because diatoms store a lot of oil in the body and their cell walls easily open up, the larvae can easily eat them. Certain species of diatoms are also indicators of oil deposits. They can also determine the age of a certain place. Likewise, these are used in forensic studies. Diatoms are added to some paints to make them luminous at night. These paints are used in road signs and traffic lights. She has been a treasured faculty member and researcher of the Institute of Biological Sciences of the College of Arts and Sciences since 1976. Since she started doing research, she has already identified 13 new species and varieties of algae. Three of these are deposited at the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences. She has also described 17 algae, which are recorded for the first time in the Philippines. Moreover, she established the first phycological herbarium in the Botanical Herbarium of the College of Agriculture, UPLB.
Dr. Martinez-Goss is currently co-writing, under a creative writing grant, a book on the taxonomy of marine phytoplankton in the Philippines. Nowadays, when funding for research has considerably diminished, she sometimes shells out her own money to cover some of the expenses of the research. “I love creating jobs, to discover, to send students abroad because I feel that they are the extension of my own self, “ she explains. Her passion for work hasn’t diminished even though she has been into research for more than two decades. She works every Sunday to prepare for her lessons the next week. “I always enjoy writing lessons. I still propose research and new courses. I like improving things.”
She is also co-organizing an international conference on the Asia-Pacific Conference on Algal Biotechnology (APCAB) in 2006. Local and international researchers will come to the Philippines to discuss research breakthroughs and technologies derived from various research findings. Upon retiring, she plans to keep herself busy by writing a book about algae, including diatoms. She also hopes to help the farmers of the north by commercially producing one of her research findings on the tab-taba, a freshwater blue-green alga that can be made into pickles and chewy sweets similar to gummy bear candies. The tab-taba are good sources of proteins and have high dietary fiber content. They can be eaten raw as
So how does a faculty member become one of UPLB’s finest researchers? “Just make sure you conduct research the systematic way. Don’t get discouraged, although there are so many setbacks. Look at the brighter side of life. Keep on seeking the truth for the good of the majority, “ she advises. Whether you are into research or just plain striving to do better in life, it pays to follow her words of wisdom. After all, she is what she is now because of these guiding principles.
Oruga, JAA. Dr. Milagrosa Martinez-Goss (Outstanding Researcher). UPLB Honors Its Bests (The 96th Foundation Day Awardees). University of the Philippines Los Banos Horizon (Official Community Newspaper of UP Los Banos)
Vol. 7 (2):4-5. February 2005.
With the exception of Silangan and Kanluran Roads, the names of UPLB Roads, specifically the roads in the Lower Campus, are of botanical in origin. The plant names were obtained from fruit trees, ornamental plants and timber wood. The National tree, narra, was definitely part of this roster.
The towering Royal Palms of UP Los Banos
Dr. Bonifacio T. Mercado
Professor in Plant Physiology
BS Agriculture major in Agricultural Botany '59
Ph.D. Muster University, West Germany '68
Dr. Arcelia Alfonso-Alejar
Professor in Plant Physiology
BSA '58; MS AgBot '70 UP Los Banos
Ph. D. Plant Physiology, Wye College, Univ. of London, UK '78
Dr. Alejar was a Professor of plant physiology at the Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, UP Los Banos. She finished her BS in Agriculture in 1958 and MS in Agricultural Botany in 1970 both at UP Los Banos. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Physiology in 1978 at the Wye College, University of London. She did post-doctoral studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (1985-86), She was a visiting scientist at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). She was a Research Associate at the University of Wales in Cardiff, United Kingdom (1990) and at the Institute of Plant Nutrition, University of Hohenheim in Stuggart and Giensen, Germany (1997). She held the Jose R. Velasco Professorial Chair in Plant Physiology at UP Los Banos for two consecutive years, 1994 and 1995.
Dr. Alfonso-Alejar is co-author to the Plant Physiology Lecture Syllabus (right).
Alfonso-Alejar, A.M. and M.L.Dionisio-Sese. 1999. Fundamentals of Plant Physiology. Plant Physiology Society of the Philippines. Pasig City, Metro Manila. 166 p.
ad hoc ommittee on heritage trees based on their association with significant cultural and political events.
Prof. Ludivina Samson-De Padua (1932-2007)
Pharmacist; Botanist; Pioneer and Recognized Authority in Herbal Medicine
BS Pharmacy '53; MS Botany '75
“The beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”.
That’s what readily comes to mind when one thinks of Professor Ludivina S. de Padua, “Ning” for most of her friends. A B.S. in Pharmacy honor graduate (UPD) of 1953, she transferred to Los Baños with her husband, Dr. Dante de Padua,raised the brood and earned her M.S. Botany (UPLB) in 1975. She joined the staff of the then Department of Botany. Through decades, she has consistently shared the knowledge and advocated the proper utilization of medicinal plants. Quietly working with full dedication, she documented a number of local plants used in traditional medicine and worked on their histochemistry [Handbook of Philippine medicinal plants (4 volumes), Some Medicinal Plants for Common Ailments, among others. She blazed the trail with co-workers and left a legacy to the country (Philippine Pharmacopoeia). Her perseverance in networking brought together people of various age, sector and nationality to work on a common goal (Prosea 12(1) Medicinal and Poisonous Plants; ANMAP - Asian Network on Medicinal Plants). Her various contributions did not go unnoticed. And these are not just in the realm of research but also in teaching, extension work and administration. At the Institute of Biological Sciences where she served as Director, she was known to be a conscientious staff member who submits requirements ahead of time. She served as curator of medicinal plants at the UPLB Museum of Natural History and established herbal gardens. For a time, she was the Principal for Herbal Medicine of the Health and Management Information System (HAMIS) Academy of the Philippine Department of Health. For decades, she offered the summer short course on herbal medicine at UPLB.
The list of her awards attests to all these:
Sanguniang Bayan Award- Angono,Rizal 1979
Distinguish Teacher Award, UPLB, 1980
Distinguish Alumnus Award, CAS-UPLB, 1986
SEARCA Professorial Chair, 1987-88
Outstanding Teacher Award, UPLB, 1988
President’s Diploma for Outstanding Teacher, UP System, 1988
Silver HAMIS Award, DOH-GTZ, 1991
Presidential Medal, Lingkod Bayan Award, 1994
National Research Council of the Philippines (NCRP) Achievement Award, 1995
Editor, PROSEA, 1996
Gold HAMIS Award, 1997
Governor’s Award, Province of Laguna, 1997
Professorial Award for Pharmacy, UP Manila Alumni Association, 2001
Most Outstanding Alumni Award, UP Manila Alumni Association
Outstanding Professorial Award in Pharmacy, UP Alumni Association, 2003
Award of Recognition, Phil. Pharmaceutical Assoc., Colegio Medico Day, Nat'l Pharmacy Week, 2003
Professor Emeritus, UP System
And for the undersigned that grew up with Ma’am de Padua as mentor and friend, the cherished experience is being unhampered in growing – her allowing new aspects of natural products’ research to be tested and tried – consistently receiving support from her, in various terms. Perhaps, the extension work of Prof. de Padua is not highlighted in the string of awards she received. But the poignant memories with Ma’am de Padua include a visit to the Sampaguita section of the National Penitentiary and a party of the Lions Club Philippines in an exclusive residential area. In both occasions, Prof. de Padua delivered a seminar on medicinal plants. In both events, she connected and she did it with a full heart.
- Dr. Lourdes Cardenas
Cardenas, L. 2007. Remembering Prof. Ludivina S. de Padua. Natural Products Society of the Philippines Updates (The Official Newsletter of the Natural Products Society of the Philippines) 14:3-4.
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