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26 March 2015

SMILES OF PROMISE. BPI-DOST Science Awards Top Three—Christian John Capirig of Ateneo de Davao University (third to right), Raiza Elmira Imperial of UP Diliman (second to right), and Alron Jan Lam of De La Salle University (second to left) flash their trophies with BPI Foundation Inc. Executive Director Fidelina Corcuera (leftmost), BPI President Cezar Consing (rightmost); and DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo (third to left).

Aiming to aid the banana industry in its fight against fungal disease epidemic through his study on a banana plant pathogen, a student from Ateneo de Davao University topped this year’s Bank of the Philippine Islands – Department of Science and Technology (BPI-DOST) Best Project of the Year Awards.

Christian John Capirig, a BS Biology student, bested seven other finalists from the University of the Philippines Diliman, De la Salle University and University of Santo Tomas with his project entitled “In Vitro Evaluation of Selected Bacteria against Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense Tropical Race 4”. 

In his study, Capirig determined the antifungal ability of the soil bacteria Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Streptomyces aureofaciens against Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense Tropical Race 4 better known as Foc TR4, in Potato Dextrose Agar (PDA). He found that B. subtilis and P. fluorescens “proved to be potentially effective inhibitors mainly because of the metabolites they produce.”

The study could be of big help to the country’s multi-billion-peso banana industry. Banana remains one of the leading export income-earner for Filipino farmers despite the losses in recent years due to typhoons and diseases, including the Fusarium Wilt.

With his win, Capirig will be conferred with a DOST scholarship along with a trophy, and a P50,000 cash prize.

Placing second was UP Diliman’s Raiza Elmira Imperial with her study “One-step Fabrication of Superhydrophobic/Superoleophilic Electrodeposited Polythiophene for Oil and Water Separation”. The BS Chemistry student won a trophy and a P30,000 cash prize for her project targeted to minimize the damage of oil spills.

Rounding up the top three was Alron Jan Lam of De la Salle University with his project, “Breadcrumb: An Indoor Simultaneous Localization and Mapping System for Mobile Devices,” an attempt to mimic the use of Global Positioning System to indoor setups. He brought home a trophy and P10,000 in cash.

Cezar Consing, President of BPI; Fidelina Corcuera, Executive Director, BPI Foundation Inc., and Dr. Josette Biyo, Director of DOST’s Science Education Institute (SEI) presented the awards to the winners.

The Science Awards is a joint project of BPI Foundation and the DOST through SEI that annually honors the Best Thesis or Project by graduating students pursuing science courses in 10 selected universities which include Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Davao University, De La Salle University, Saint Louis University, Silliman University, University of the Philippines Diliman, University of the Philippines Los Baños, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas, and Xavier University. The project aims to give recognition and incentives to students who excel in applied and basic science research.

“This endeavor seeks to urge and inspire our promising students in the sciences to pursue higher levels of excellence in their respective fields,” said Biyo. “We commend BPI for sharing in our belief in the value of science in national development.” 

The BPI-DOST Science Awards is already in its 26th year and has awarded more than 700 outstanding students and their work. Biyo said the science community expects to maintain the production of quality science graduates who will someday help flourish the country’s research and development scene. 

“We hope that by recognizing the work of our budding scientists and engineers, other students will follow suit,” said Biyo. (30)