Every year since its inception in 2016, 100 top scientists from Asia are named by the Singapore-based Asian Scientist Magazine acknowledging and honoring the most outstanding researchers from the region. To qualify for the honor, the recipient must have received a national or international prize in the year preceding the award. Otherwise, the recipient must have made a significant scientific discovery or provided leadership in the academe or industry.
For the year 2020, with the award now on its fifth year, 11 Filipinos were included in the prestigious list, and three among them were graduates of the University of Santo Tomas.
Dr. Alicia Mascardo Aguinaldo, a 1976 BS Chemistry graduate from the College of Science, Dr. Raul Destura, a medical doctor who graduated from the College of Science in 1992 with a degree in Microbiology, and Dr. Susan Manalastas Gallardo, a Chemical Engineer who graduated from the Faculty of Engineering in 1976.
Aguinaldo was recognized for her research on Philippine plants that have medicinal properties. On May 28, 2019, she received from the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies the Shimadzu Achievement Award for Chemical Research for her studies on the anti-tuberculosis and anti-diabetic properties of Philippine plants. She is a retired faculty member of the College of Science but currently teaches at the UST Graduate School, and is part of a project under the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care. She is also a researcher at the UST Research Center for the Natural Sciences.
Destura is currently connected with the National Institutes of Health of the University of the Philippines. He headed the team of UP Manila researchers that developed an affordable rapid dengue diagnostic kit Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit. This is now manufactured by Manila Health Tek, Inc., a spinoff health tech startup that he heads. It is the same entity that developed the country’s first and only locally produced real time-polymerase chain reaction swab test for COVID.
Destura was awarded the 2019 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award for his creation of the award-winning Biotek-M dengue Aqua Kit for faster, more affordable and accessible dengue diagnosis.
Gallardo received the David M. Consunji Award for Engineering Research 2019 for her work in environmental engineering and catalysis, as well as industrial and hazardous waste treatment and management. She was a University Fellow and retired professor of Chemical Engineering at De La Salle University (DLSU). She is still actively involved in research and consultancy at the DLSU Center for Engineering Sustainable Development Research. Currently, she is the lead proponent of a project funded by DLSU University Research Coordination Office under the Retired Fellows Research Grant, “Greening a Selected Community in the Philippines”.
Through the DLSU Intellectual Property Office, Gallardo recently received a patent for a water filtration system. She also has utility model registration for a photocatalyst of titania with activated carbon through the Department of Science and Technology – Technology Application and Promotion Institute. She is likewise actively involved in community outreach programs related to solid waste management, water resources engineering, wastewater treatment, and hazardous waste management.
The other Filipino scientists awarded were: (4) Carlos Arcilla, the executive director of the DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute that is leading the country’s push to harness nuclear power to bring down the country’s high power cost; (5) engineer Robert Dizon, the executive director of the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center that developed the Hybrid Electric Road Train; (6) former UP president and National Scientist Emil Javier; (7) Emma Sales of the University of Southern Mindanao; (8) Cleotilde Hidalgo How of UP Manila; (9) the late Alonzo Gabriel of UP Diliman; (10) Raymond Tan of the De La Salle University; and (11) Joselito Chavez of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute who was awarded for his trailblazing work on the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in severe cases of leptospirosis.
With the three UST alumni included in the 2020 Asian Scientist 100, it now brings to a total of five Thomasian Asian scientists. In 2019, Faculty of Engineering Assistant Dean Ricardo S. Balog was conferred the award for having received the 2018 Mario Cruel Award for Advanced Engineering Technology Application for his research on low-cost medical devices. Balog graduated from UST with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1980.
In 2017, the first Thomasian to have been part of the prestigious list was Dr. Raymond L. Rosales who obtained his degree in Medicine in 1981. Rosales, a professor who has led a number of international, multi-center clinical trials, was awarded the 2016 Philippines Promising Star Award for his work in neurology and behavioral science.
Among the other prominent members in the 2020 Asian Scientist 100 is Akira Yoshino of the Asahi Kasei Corp., who was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for creating the world’s first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985.
Another Nobel Prize winner in the list was Yang Chen-Ning of China’s Tsinghua University, who received the 2019 Qiu Shi Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to theoretical physics. Yang was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on parity non-conservation of weak interactions.
The Singapore-based Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights the “best and most exciting” science and technology stories from Asia bringing them to a global audience.