Science profs in international confab and training
Assoc. Prof. Bernard John V. Tongol, Ph.D. of the Chemistry Department of the College of Science participated in the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE) Satellite Meeting on New Devices for Energy Conversion and Storage through a poster presentation. This was held Oct. 1 – 3, 2015 at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Hong Kong. His paper which focused on “Electrochemically Exfoliated Graphene as Support Material for PdNi for Direct Ethanol Fuel Cell Applications” is one of the 20 posters presented during the conference. Tongol is the lone delegate from the Philippines out of 101 participants from Europe(18), North America(15), Mainland China(11), Hong Kong(49), and other Asian countries(8).
The said conference is a thematic/focused meeting which highlights new devices for energy conversion and storage. Major activities include both oral and poster presentations. The oral presentations were highlighted by plenary, keynote, and invited lectures delivered by world-renowned electrochemists as well as battery, solar cell, and fuel cell experts.
To Tongol, what is particularly interesting is the plenary lecture of Prof. Nenad Markovic (Argonne National Laboratory, U.S.A.) on “Electrocatalysis and Electrochemical Interfaces”, the keynote lectures of Dr. Piotr Zelenay (Los Alamos National Laboratory, U.S.A.) on “Oxygen Reduction on Non-Precious Metal Electrocatalysts” and of Dr. Mark Mathias (General Motors Fuel Cell Research and Development, U.S.A.) on “High Current Density Performance of PEM Fuel Cells at Low Platinum Loading – Practical Importance and Fundamentals,” among others.
In his reflection, Tongol has this to say: “Being a member of the International Society of Electrochemistry, attending the conference was an opportunity for me to meet with fellow electrochemists, to keep abreast of recent research studies and findings and to learn from their research experience. It was a very good venue to meet potential collaborators in the field of fuel cell research. It was fortunate and humbling to be able to meet and discuss with Dr. Piotr Zelenay of Los Alamos National Laboratory, a highly esteemed fuel cell expert who is into catalyst development, during my poster presentation. His remarks and suggestions are useful for the improvement of our research. I am optimistic that the first cordial meeting and short discussion during the poster session may lead to possible collaboration in the future “.
He added that as a faculty and thesis adviser of the College of Science and project leader of the Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences, his participation in this meeting provided him insights and new perspective on their research on electrocatalysis and direct ethanol fuel cell. He hopes that his participation would put UST and the Philippines on the map of electrochemical energy conversion and storage, adding that this would send some signal to other countries the Philippines’ efforts on harnessing the potential of electrochemistry and nanotechnology for sustainable and clean energy research. He concluded that it is an honor that DOST-PCIEERD has identified UST to be the leader in fuel cell research and in the national fuel cell testing facility that will be set up in UST. He concluded further that it is a big challenge for researchers like him to do high quality research locally while coping with some administrative concerns such as delay in processing of purchases and delivery of materials and equipment.
His attendance in the conference jointly organized by ISE and HKUST was made possible through the financial support from the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST – PCIEERD).
Meanwhile, Asst. Prof. Ma Shiela M. de Jesus, M.Sc. was recipient of a Small World Initiative (SWI) Training Workshop on Antibiotic Crowdsourcing held at Yale University – Center for Scientific Teaching, National University, Costa Mesa campus in Costa Mesa, CA, USA on June 2-6, 2015 under the supervision of Prof. Ana Barral, Prof. Joe Caruso and Prof. Debra Lewis.
She cited that UST becomes an SWI (Small World Initiative) partner in sharing undergraduate research on antibiotic discovery that eventually leads to the integration of a common research project with core biology concepts. According to de Jesus, SWI harnesses the power of active learning to achieve two goals: 1) engaging students in research early in their careers in order to increase the number of students graduating with science degrees; and 2) laying groundwork for scientific discovery by leveraging the strengths of crowdsourcing.
She added that with the use of authentic scientific research as inspiration, this initiative addresses a worldwide health threat - the diminishing supply of effective antibiotics which may eventually lead the students to the discovery of antibiotics from soil bacteria in their local environment with creative experimental design. She considered the course instrumental in serving as the venue for the investigation of biological and chemical soil diversity and a platform from which biological concepts may be taught.
“I belong to the 3rd batch of Microbiology educators to be trained in the experimental setup of SWI as well as promote discussions on course design and assessment. I met Microbiology faculty from different states (12) and 2 from Canada, 1 from Belize and 2 from Nigeria. We exchanged notes on teaching Microbiology only to find out that we share the same curriculum and student concerns. We were introduced different teaching assessments as well.” These words capsulize De Jesus’s learning experience, discoveries, and reflections.
As early as 2013, de Jesus has been a grantee of international training. More specifically, she enjoyed the BCDA-PCIEERD-DOST Travel Grant held October 21 to Nov. 8, 2013 at Nagoya City University Graduate School for Medical Sciences, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Nagoya, Japan under the tutelage of Prof. Takashi Okamoto, M. D., PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Nagoya City University of Medical Sciences.
After the training on the Genome Analysis of Human Endogenous Retroviruses: A Bioinformatics Approach, she learned the following techniques: bioinformatics analysis of the syncytin (HERV) gene, site-directed mutagenesis and sequencing, subcloning of the “corrected” syncytin gene from pGEM to pGEX vectors, and GST fusion protein expression.