Spectrometry research showcased at NatSci cluster hy-flex seminar

The Graduate School, through the Natural Sciences Cluster, organized a hy-flex seminar titled “Research Trends in Spectrometry Towards Sustainability” held at the Science Online Learning Environment (SOLE) Room at the Main Building on April 11, 2024. This hybrid seminar aimed to showcase the research endeavors of two PhD students in Biology as part of their dissertation. The seminar drew a diverse audience, including undergraduate and graduate students, members of research laboratories at the Research Center for Natural and Applied Sciences, and UST Senior High School learners from the GAS-Health Allied Strand and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Strand.

Assistant Professor Reuel Bennett, the program head of the Natural Sciences Cluster delivered the opening remarks where he welcomed attendees from various departments, challenging them to identify different spectrometric techniques presented during the seminar and to ponder the implications of the results on sustainability efforts.

Ms. Irisse Bianca De Jesus, a PhD student and academic staff member at the UST Senior High School, provided a comprehensive program overview, elucidating the event’s format. She further enriched Dr. Bennett’s challenge by posing guide questions and sustainability issues to the audience.

The first topic, “Flavorful Frequencies: Harnessing Spectroscopic Insights for Functional Foods Innovation in Food Science and Technology,” presented by Ms. Eiselle Joyce R. Hidalgo, delved into the application of food innovations for sustainable practices and ingredient sourcing. Hidalgo shared insights gained from her research immersion with rice farmers, emphasizing the potential of utilizing rice bran, often discarded, as a sustainable resource. She detailed multiple experimental tests employing absorbance data to identify different components, showcasing rice bran as a viable ingredient with economic benefits for farmers. A mini workshop facilitated by Hidalgo engaged the audience in understanding flavor profiles using a variety of coffee candies.

Subsequently, Mr. Elfritzson Peralta explored the use of isotope ratio mass spectrometry in understanding freshwater food webs, titled “Philippine Watersheds in the Anthropocene: Stream and Food Web Ecology of Southern Urban Hydrosystems and Freshwater Protected Areas.” Peralta emphasized the role of identifying stable isotope signatures in comprehending watershed ecosystem conditions and species interactions within freshwater environments. His presentation highlighted the significance of such research in fostering an appreciation for limited freshwater resources, augmented by infographics showcasing zoobenthos diversity across various freshwater lakes and rivers. Notably, Peralta shared a compelling insight on identifying carbon and nitrogen stable isotope signatures of freshwater organisms as indicative of anthropogenic effects on hydrosystems.

An open forum moderated facilitated discussions on sustainable actions and spectrometry applications. The audience demonstrated a keen interest in spectrometry instrumentation in experiments. Hidalgo and Peralta concluded the forum by encouraging further research on Spectrometry applications.

This Graduate Seminar adeptly balanced technical research intricacies with the audience’s varying levels of familiarity with Spectrometry. A collaborative effort between the UST Graduate School, UST College of Science, and UST Senior High School, the seminar aimed to engage the youth in scientific specialization.

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