Filipina National Scientists
The success of women in various fields has resonated even the in the male-dominated halls of science. Currently there are world-famous female science icons, such as radioactive chemistry pioneer Marie Curie and nurse-statistician Florence Nightingale.
In the Philippines, women scientists are prominent in the scientific community. Due to perhaps their innate maternal instinct, their researches have always addressed the plight of the Filipino people. From agriculture to pediatrics, Filipino women scientists have produced inventions and solutions answering to the needs of Filipinos.
- Fe del Mundo. Dr. del Mundo was the first Asian woman and the first Filipina to be accepted at the prestigious Harvard University School of Medicine. Her specialization was on pediatrics, and she is best known to the Filipinos as the designer of a low-cost incubator made of bamboo and other local materials. She published more than 100 articles in medical journals, and trained various medical practitioners in and out of the country. She was also the first Filipina to be conferred the rank of National Scientist in 1980.
- Carmen C. Velasquez. Parasitologist Carmen Velasquez is the author of Digenetic Trematodes of Philippine Fishes, which became the regional reference on fish parasitology and aquaculture management. A productive scientist, she discovered 32 species and one genus of digenetic trematodes from different Philippine vertebrates, as well as three species and a genus of Monogenea from marine fishes. She was given the title of National Scientist in 1983.
- Encarnacion A. Alzona. Dr. Encarnacion Alzona has the distinction of being the first woman in the Philippines to receive a doctorate degree. This was in 1922, when she obtained her Ph.D. from Columbia University. A known historian, Dr. Alzona has written several books on Philippine history, a few of which have already become classics, such as A History of Education in the Philippines. She was conferred the rank of National Scientist in 1985.
- Luz Oliveros-Belardo. A scientist in the field of pharmaceutical chemistry, Dr. Belardo focused her attention on the chemistry of natural products and essential oils from Philippine plants. She extracted 33 new essential oils and studied their chemical and physical properties, contributing to the creation of new flavors, scents, and herbal medicines. She was conferred the title of National Scientist in 1987.
- Clara Y. Lim-Sylianco. Dr. Lim-Sylianco is a biochemist widely regarded for her researches on mutagens, antimutagens, and bio-organic mechanisms. Her numerous discoveries of environmental mutagens earned her laboratory at the University of the Philippines the designation of being an international training center for the detection of chemical mutagens by the Research Planning in Biological Sciences, Washington D.C., USA in 1986, as well as her appointment as a member of the International Advisory Committee on Antimutagens in 1989. She is also the author of five books in organic chemistry, biochemistry, genetic toxicology, and molecular nutrition, which are used as references by college chemistry students all over the Philippines. She was awarded the rank of National Scientist in 1994.
- Dolores A. Ramirez. Dr. Ramirez is a cytogeneticist who studied important Philippine crops, including rice, coconut, banana, sugarcane, ornamentals, legumes, and several fruit-bearing trees. She is most memorable for unlocking the genetic systems of the makapuno endosperm, the genetics of chemical resistance factors against Cercospora kex leaf spot, and the cytogenetics of hybrids of rice with related wild species. She was conferred the title of National Scientist in 1997.
- Gelia T. Castillo. Dr. Castillo is a figure recognized internationally for her contributions as a social scientist. Her publications are major and definitive works on Philippine agricultural and rural development. These include All in a Grain of Rice, known to be the first book written by a Filipino about the Filipino farmer's response to new technology, and Beyond Manila, cited as an in-depth and analytical study of the actual problems and needs of the rural areas in relation to countryside development. These works gave Filipinos insight on their own rural development efforts and their attempt to reach the farmer and the rural poor. She received the title of National Scientist in 1999.
- Clare R. Baltazar. A foremost Filipina entomologist, Dr. Clare Baltazar has done numerous studies on insects, particularly on Philippine-endemic Hymenoptera species, which proved important for biological insect control in the country. She also discovered 8 genera and 1 subgenus of Hymenoptera, as well as 108 species of Philippine parasitic wasps. She is also the author of Philippine Insects, the first authoritative text on Philippine insects. In 2001, she was conferred the title and rank of National Scientist.
- Lourdes J. Cruz. A celebrated Filipina biochemist, Dr. Cruz is the newest Filipina to be conferred the rank of National Scientist. She has produced over 120 scientific papers, which mostly focused on the understanding of the biochemistry of toxic peptides gathered from the venom of fish-hunting Conus marine snail. Her studies contributed to the characterization of over 50 biologically active peptides, which were later used as biochemical probes for examining the activities of the human brain. In 2001, she established the Rural Livelihood Incubator, a program which aimed to alleviate poverty and socio-political instability in the rural areas by giving job and livelihood opportunities to their people.