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Participants of the seventh virtual Regional Basic Research Caravan held for Central Luzon

The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) continues to boost the capabilities of researchers, scientists, and engineers (RSEs), including artists via its Regional Basic Research Caravan (RBRC) in the midst of the public health crises.

The Council made its seventh stop of virtual RBRC for Central Luzon last February 3, 2021, which was attended by over 380 participants (45% male and 55% female), in partnership with DOST Region III and academic institutions in the region.

“This RBRC is a noteworthy project as it introduces the DOST-NRCP in the various regions of our country. At DOST, we are always enthusiastic in bringing our programs and activities that contribute to nation-building and sustainable development,” says Department of Science and Technology Secretary, Prof. Fortunato de la Peña.

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DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña delivers his Opening Remarks at the NRCP Regional Basic Research Caravan for Central Luzon on February 03, 2021.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the NRCP had already conducted nine (9) RBRCs since August 2019, with Batanes as launching point. Since then, the caravan has reached Ilocos Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Batangas, Benguet, Iloilo, Davao, Leyte, and Zamboanga City.

On March 12, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the alert level for the coronavirus which was raised to its maximum level of Code Red Sublevel 2, marking the first major lockdown in the country in the recent history. The RBRC was among the many activities of the NRCP that was affected by the lockdown.

In response to significant demand, however, the NRCP shifted away from university auditoriums and gymnasiums, and adopted the online platforms. From September 2020 to early February 2021, the Council has conducted seven (7) virtual RBRCs for the following regions: Caraga, Central Visayas, Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao, Bicol,  Central Luzon, and National Capital Region.

 “I can still recall the general feeling at the DOST back in March last year (2020) realizing that regional activities, including the Regional Basic Research Caravan of NRCP will be held in abeyance in order to prioritize the health of our clients and staff. Which is why I am very pleased that we can conduct this through an online platform to achieve its objectives,” said Sec. de la Peña in his Opening Remarks at the RBRC Central Luzon.

Consistent with the caravan’s theme “Nurturing Regional R&D Niches”, the Council aims to increase its membership and create an experts’ pool that will strengthen research corridors in the region.

As the national pool of researchers, engineers, scientists and artists in the country, the Council has now around 5000 members where majority comes from the National Capital Region, while only 3.0% is in Central Luzon.

“We hope that the 3.0% from Central Luzon will go up after this caravan,” emphasized NRCP Executive Director, Dr. Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay.

Recent NRCP report says that the RBRC, along with colleague referrals, is one of the most effective strategies of the Council’s membership promotion.

 

Sharing of NRCP Research Findings

On this second virtual RBRC, Dr. Aristotle Ubando, a Regular Member of the Division of Engineering and Industrial Research and a Professor from De La Salle – Laguna Campus, presented the results of his NRCP-funded study on “Optimal Design of a Trigeneration System using Fuzzy Linear Programming Approach with Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA)” on product price uncertainty. Uncertainty is a problem that all mining operations are faced with, especially in biorefineries. This model will also help in designing and integrating various systems for the development of biorefineries.

“GSA was able to determine if the design is robust from price fluctuations. It was also able to determine the impact of price fluctuation to the design parameters,” Ubando concluded in his presentation.

Ubando, recognized for his 2016 Philippines Promising Star Award, is a recipient of the 2020 NRCP Achievement Award and will be conferred during the NRCP Annual Scientific Conference and 88th General Membership Assembly (GMA) on March 10, 2020 via an online platform, with the theme: “Pagbangon at Pananaig: National Recovery and Rebuilding.”

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The problem statement of the NRCP-funded study “Optimal design of a trigeneration system using fuzzy linear programming approach with Global Sensitivity Analysis (GSA)”

Boosting Capabilities of RSEs

“In the age of globalization, it is important to collaborate --- a strategy for acquiring new knowledge in keeping abreast with international trends in science, technology, and innovations,” underscored DOST Region 3 Director, Dr. Julius Caesar V. Sicat.

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DOST Regional Director Julius Caesar V. Sicat during the Regional Basic Research Caravan for Central Luzon on February 03, 2021.

Sicat recalled Secretary de la Peña’s guideposts to ensure that the region’s programs and outputs must be word class, relevant, and region-based.

Central Luzon has intensified its research along solar technologies of the Tarlac State University; and the saliva-test for COVID-19, which the Angeles University Foundation conducted in April 2020.

Sicat emphasized the importance of aligning national and regional research agenda, activities, and programs, such as NRCP’s National Integrated Basic Research Agenda with the Region III R&D priority areas.

During the event, Sumagaysay announced the NRCP-implemented program, the RD Leadership Program, that helps in boosting science capabilities of Filipino researchers through capacity development trainings and mentoring by experts. In its first two years, the RD Lead program has already engaged 32 institutions in 16 regions, with the assistance of 36 RD Leaders. For Central Luzon, the RDLeader is Dr. Dennis V. Cantre hosted by Tarlac State University.

The Council continues to recognize the important role of the RSEs as well as the practitioners and communicators of science and technology (S&T), residing in the country’s key cities, provinces, and rural communities, in honing their skills and capacity to develop “niches” most relevant to their communities. 

The first wave of the RBRC is set to close by March, with Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as its 17th and last stop.