UST-Sta. Rosa breaks ground on new research institute named after William Belo

The University of Santo Tomas held the groundbreaking of the UST-Dr. William T. Belo Interdisciplinary Research Institute (UST-WiTBIRIn) in its rising Sta. Rosa City campus on January 26, 2024. UST Sta. Rosa is being developed as a venue for the Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RIE) programs of the University.

UST-WiTBIRIn will provide research work stations and collaboration spaces for researchers in six interdisciplinary research areas, namely, (1) food security and safety, (2) health and wellbeing, (3) clean energy, (4) environmental sustainability, (5) information, communications, and emerging intelligent systems and technologies, and (6) advanced materials, engineering design, and product innovation.

Sta. Rosa City Mayor Arlene Arcillas and Vice Mayor Arnold Arcillas graced the blessing rites and groundbreaking ceremony, which included the burying of a time capsule containing a rosary, a Dominican Cross, that day’s newspapers, and the WiTBIRIn blueprint.

UST Vice Rector for Research and Innovation Rev. Fr. Jannel Abogado, O.P., DTPS, thanked Dr. William Belo for the donation that made establishing the WiTBIRIn possible, saying that “The knowledge pursuit motivated by charity contributes to the conservation of the world and the growth of the people in the community. This has been the motivation that governs the conduct of research in our University. [UST WiTBIRIn] will aid us in implementing our thrust to impact the lives of people more efficiently through our research and innovation goals.”

UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D., expects the rising WiTBIRIn “to be a beacon of change and development for the Calabarzon region. It is our way and manner of nurturing intellectual curiosity and fostering practical innovations. This will be a legacy that will transcend our generation because research outputs in this institute will create a ripple effect that will be felt for generations to come in the continuing evolution of science, technology, and other fields.”

“The trajectory of research is geared towards sustainability, accessibility, inclusion, and equitability. Together let us look forward to the future of boundless discoveries and collaborations to address local, regional, and global challenges, with the goal of uplifting the quality of human life,” said Fr. Ang.

Ar. Ana Mangalino-Ling, FUAP, co-founder of JSLA Architects who designed the WiTBIRIn, gave a description of the soon-to-rise structure. With a floor area of 8,311 square meters, the WiTBIRIn will have four floors containing 25 laboratories. Ar. Mangalino-Ling also shared a video presentation of the 3D renderings. Monolith Construction and Development Corporation will serve as the contractor.

Class of 1973 alumnus Dr. William Belo said he looks forward to returning soon to join UST in the inauguration of the interdisciplinary research institute, which he envisions “to provide a setting for professors and students to work in synergy together.”

Dr. Belo shared that he expects the WiTBIRIn to be a venue where “great minds and eager learners can get together to advance knowledge for dissemination and application, to contribute in the upliftment of life.”

UST Sta. Rosa is currently in the first phase of development, which is building the UST-Sta. Rosa Research Complex (UStaRRCo), intended to accommodate more faculty and student researchers as well as visiting scientists and research collaborators. The USTaRRCo will have three Research Institutes based on the current and developing research strengths of the University. The UST-William T. Belo Interdisciplinary Research Institute will be the first to rise, and soon to follow will be the Research Institute for Health and Biomedical Sciences, and the Research Institute for Data Science and Cybersystems, thus comprising the “UStaRRCo Trinity”.

The UST WiTBIRIn follows the UST-Dr. Tony Tan Caktiong Innovation Center, which was inaugurated in April 2023.

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