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2 Pinoy scientists honored by Arroyo

scientistaward.jpg MANILA President Arroyo Jan. 14 conferred top national honors on two Filipino scientists and a former chief executive of a multinational firm for their efforts to help improve the lives of Filipinos.
Dr. Lourdes Cruz was conferred the Order of National Scientist and Dr. Baldomero Olivera decorated with the Philippine Legion of Honor with the rank of Grand Officer in ceremonies at Malacanangs Rizal Hall.
Mrs. Arroyo also conferred the Order of the Golden Heart with the rank of Grand Officer to Howard Belton, former chief executive officer of Unilever Philippines.
Cruz and Olivera have jointly produced an antivenom drug that counters the poison secreted by cone snail shells when accidentally stepped on.
Cruz also conceptualized and established the Rural Livelihood Incubator (Rural LINC) in 2001 that seeks to generate employment opportunities and establish sustainable means of livelihood as long-term solutions to poverty and sociopolitical instability in rural areas, especially among Aetas, upland farmers and fisherfolk.
Olivera, a corresponding member of the National Academy of Science and Technology and a professor at the University of Utah, is part of a group that made a breakthrough discovery of a family of biomolecules called conotoxins widely used in the study of ion channels and neuromuscular synapses.
Belton is known for his pioneering efforts and involvement in social development work, most notably the Pasig River Rehabilitation project, Laguna de Bay Conservation project, and the Pasiglahin ang Batang Pinoy” feeding program.
Meanwhile, 7 visiting Balik Scientists have proposed that the knowledge they will share be commercialized or applied to industries so jobs could be created, and a core of scientists could be developed.
The seven made the proposal during a press briefing after they were introduced to the media early this month by Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro.
They also vowed to help strengthen the science and technology sector of the country by working with universities, industry, government agencies and civil society.
The seven are scientists-chemists Jane Betty and Ma. Cynthia Goh and Teresita Kullberg, physicist Alfonso Albano, geologist Kelvin Rodolfo, nutrition and dairy expert Antonio L. Ordoveza, and molecular biologist Leopold Ilag. They are in the country as recipients of the 2008 Balik Scientist program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
All have earned their respective doctoral degrees, and their researches and works published in research publications all over the world.
The Balik Scientist program encourages Filipino expatriates who have made a name in the field of sciences and technology to come back to the country for at least a month, or even as long as three years, and to share their knowledge with Filipino scientists and technologists. It was first piloted in 1975 and revived in 1993 under the DOSTs supervision.
To date, almost 300 Balik Scientists have shared their expertise through the program.
The program was one of the main thrusts of the DOST as proposed during the Innovation Summit last year,” said Alabastro.
We will also welcome the opportunity to network with other sectors, like nongovernment organizations and peoples organizations,” Goh said.
Albano, a physicist, said that the growth of science and technology need not be confined to Manila. He actually lauded the conduct of the world-famous Jagna Conference in Bohol every three years, which bring together some of the worlds famous scientists.

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