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Dr. Cristine D. Villagonzalo, theoretical physicist and current NRCP Physics Chair, was elected as the 31st NRCP President at the Organizational Meeting of the NRCP Governing Board held on 29 March 2022 at the PICC, Pasay City, to serve from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

 The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) elected theoretical physicist and former vice president Dr. Cristine De Los Reyes Villagonzalo as new President Tuesday, 29 March 2022, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, at the Organizational Meeting of the NRCP Governing Board.

The 31st and fourth female NRCP President is a professor and the Deputy Director for Academic Affairs at the University of the Philippines (UP) National Institute of Physics (NIP), and a strong advocate of basic research. She is also the incumbent Chair of the NRCP Division of Physics since April 2019. She succeeds outgoing NRCP Social Sciences Chair Dr. Gregorio E. H. del Pilar, who served as Council President from July 2020 to March 2022. She earned her BS and MS Physics degrees in UP Diliman, her postgraduate diploma in condensed matter physics at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, and her doctoral degree in theoretical physics from the Technische Universität Chemnitz in Chemnitz, Germany in 2001. She also served a postdoctoral fellowhip at the West Virginia University in West Virginia, USA, and held key posts at the UP Diliman and professional physics organizations, such as the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics in South Korea and the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas.

New officers chosen

The 16-seat NRCP Governing Board (GB) also elected: Dr. Leslie Michelle M. Dalmacio, molecular biologist and NRCP Medical Sciences Division chair (Vice President); Dr. Marie Paz E. Morales, science education expert and NRCP Governmental, Educational and International Policies Division chair (Corporate Secretary); and Dr. Maribel G. Nonato, chemist, academician, and NRCP Chemical Sciences Division chair (Treasurer). NRCP Biological Sciences Division Chair, Dr. Marian P. de Leon and new NRCP Engineering and Industrial Research Division Chair, Dr. Michael Angelo B. Promentilla, were also appointed as Assistant Corporate Secretary and Assistant Treasurer, respectively.

The new NRCP Officers were sworn in by Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña, Department of Science and Technology Secretary and former NRCP President (2002 - 2007). They will serve for a year from 1 April 2022 until 31 March 2023.

Vision for the Council

Dr. Villagonzalo endeavors to strengthen the Council’s role in doing and promoting basic research via the efficient delivery of services and an open feedback of members to the NRCP GB and the Secretariat.

“If NRCP is an atom, the nucleus consists of the [GB] and the NRCP Secretariat, while electrons are the NRCP members. The stimulating activity lies in the electron cloud. Hence, the strength and stability of the NRCP lies in the magnitude of the interaction of its nucleus to its members” she said.

She ascribes the efficient delivery of services to an open exchange of information, ideas, and action between the NRCP GB and the Secretariat, noting consistency and continuity as keys to success. She supports the continuous digital transformation within the Council, emphasizing that vibrant networking among institutions and other agencies and the wide promotion of basic research in the country will follow suit as processes within the NRCP become refined.

Dr. Villagonzalo credits the outgoing GB led by Dr. del Pilar for having started reforms within the GB, and the improvement of processes, meanwhile vowing to continue engaging members in “the activity within the ‘nucleus’ of the NRCP.”

In his message to the GB, Secretary de la Peña urged the new Officers to persist in guiding the Council’s 4,000-plus members, amid the challenges that may result from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Secretary also cited the United Nations General Assembly resolution declaring 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development and the recent IMF statement highlighting the role of basic science in expanding local knowledge base that enable scientific progress. He cited the critical role of basic research during the pandemic, particularly in the speedy development of vaccine, therapeutics and devices, and other disease models. (George Robert E. Valencia III, NRCP OED-OP)

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DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña congratulates Dr. Cristine D. Villagonzalo, newly elected President of the National Research Council of the Philippines, upon the announcement of her election during the NRCP Governing Board Organizational Meeting, Tuesday, 29 March 2022, at the Meeting Room 3, PICC, Pasay City.

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Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña (right) administers the Oath (Panunumpa) of the new Officers of the National Research Council of the Philippines (from L to R): Assistant Treasurer Dr. Michael Angelo B. Promentilla, Assistant Corporate Secretary Dr. Marian P. de Leon, Treasurer Dr. Maribel G. Nonato, Corporate Secretary Dr. Marie Paz E. Morales, Vice President Dr. Leslie Michelle M. Dalmacio, and President Dr. Cristine D. Villagonzalo.

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The NRCP Governing Board held its first face-to-face meeting since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, at the PICC last Tuesday, 29 March 2022. Aside from the Election of New Officers, a special meeting for the GB Standing and Ad Hoc Committees, oath taking of new associate and regular members, and the 1,065th (regular) GB meeting were held.  (All photos by Val A. Zabala, NRCP Library Section)