The University of Santo Tomas conferred the title of Professor Emeritus upon Academician Maribel G. Nonato, Ph.D., in recognition of her many significant contributions to education and research. The solemn investiture was held on October 13, 2023 at the Dr. Robert Sy Grand Ballroom of the Bl. Buenaventura García Paredes O.P. Building.
Since she stepped into the University of Santo Tomas as a college freshman in the early 70s, Nonato has elevated the state of research in the field of Science and Technology, particularly Organic Chemistry, in the University, the country, and abroad. Now, almost 50 years later, the University of Santo Tomas is proud to honor one of its alumni and top administrators with the lifetime distinction of Professor Emeritus—the highest honor awarded by UST to its academic staff.
As part of the ceremony, she received the ceremonial hood, cap, ring, and medallion. The hood and cap represent her expertise, scholarly contributions, and the depth of knowledge and accomplishments that have contributed to the honoree’s recognition as a distinguished academic. The ring represents the Professor Emeritus’ enduring commitment to the academe, and her continued influence and mentorship. Lastly, the medallion is the University’s acknowledgment of her dedication and prowess, which led to her significant impact on the academic community throughout her career.
Having been lauded and recognized by institutions of high repute, particularly the National Academy of Science and Technology who named her Academician, Dr. Nonato is currently the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) Vice President and Chemical Sciences Division Chair. She is also a member of the Commission on Higher Education – Technical Committee in Chemistry.
She pioneered research on phytochemistry and biological activities of Philippine-grown species of the genus Pandanus, with more than 50 publications in internationally indexed journals. Her association with the plant is so widespread that an advisee of hers in the Graduate School, Dr. Christina Tan, named a newly discovered Pandan species after her: Freycinetia nonatoi, a fitting tribute for a leading scholar fondly called the “Pandan Queen” by her colleagues and students.
Her discovery of novel and structurally unique pharmacologically important alkaloids from the genus Pandanus earned Nonato the NRCP’s 2006 achievement award in chemical sciences, the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology’s 2016 Gregorio Y. Zara Award for Basic Research, the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Sciences’ 2017 Shimadzu Achievement for Chemical Research, and the Philippine Regulation Commission’s 2020 Outstanding Professional of the Year in Chemistry, among many accolades in her impactful career.
For almost 50 years, she has served UST with competence, commitment, and compassion in different capacities, as the first female layperson to become Vice Rector for Research and Innovation, as the Dean of the College of Science where she used to teach Organic Chemistry, and Director of Research Center for Natural Sciences, among many others. Now, she currently serves as the Assistant to the Rector for UST GenSan, courageously leading UST’s leap from España to its first satellite campus in General Santos City, which will soon be inaugurated.
The Academician obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Chemistry degrees from the University of Santo Tomas, in 1978 and 1986, respectively, while her Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry was obtained from University of Wollongong–Australia in 1993.