Studying Particle Science can be Helpful in Pollution Control

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Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva discussed about contaminants, particularly trace metal hosts and transporters during a lecture at SESAM.

Pollution is one of the major concerns not only in environmental research, but also in our society. Waterways are the most vulnerable areas and it can carry pollutants.

It includes the issues of dispersion of the trace elements in the natural aqueous systems (including pharmaceuticals and hormones); engineered nanostructures (degradation concerns); and inefficiency of the water treatment plants (WTPs) to treat the trace elements.

These concerns were discussed in the lecture entitled “Trace Metal Hosts and Transporters- Zeta Potential and Contaminants” by Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva, Science Research Collaborator and PhD Graduate of University of Bordeaux, Pessac, France, last March 14, 2017 at SESAM Lecture Hall, UP Los Baños.

As a researcher in hydrogeochemistry, Dr. Villanueva characterized the particles as hosts and transporters of contaminants (trace metals). She also sought to know the importance of the zeta potential and particle suspension phase in natural tropical aqueous system (aggregate vs. suspension). Also in her study, she also described the general behavior of the particles and trace metals.

Dr. Villanueva defined zeta potentials as the surface change-- the potential difference between the dispersion medium and the stationary layer of fluids attached to a dispersed particle. She added that once the particle is in the water, it will be hydrated and its hydrodynamic size will change. 

“In particle science, 1 nanometer to 1 micrometer are called colloids, which can carry contaminants”, Dr. Villanueva said. She added commercial colloids are engineered for suspension to prevent sedimentation.

“It is really difficult to detect, since smaller particles are easily accessible to microorganisms and these microorganisms can be adsorbed and/or absorbed by organisms channeling to humans”, Dr. Villanueva stressed.

According to particle science, the factors considered in her study of particle science were surface change; nature/type of group; number and distribution dissociation; preferential adsorption; hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance; surface (interfacial) tension; and contact angle.

Dr. Villanueva graduated BS Economics at UP Los Baños and was a former research associate of SESAM in 2009. SESAM students, faculty and research staff attended her presentation.

NASA Scientist to give his 2nd Lecture: Drought Forecasting in the Philippines

Drought Forecasting in the PH Poster Visiting Prof

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Emeritus Scientist, Dr. Josefino Comiso, will have his second lecture as a visiting professor for the timely topic of Drought Forecasting in the Philippines, on March 20, 4PM, at NCAS Auditorium.

Everyone is invited to join the event, and participate in the growing discussion of new research areas and methodologies using NASA’s free satellite images.

It is crucial to build resilient communities to face climate change- OML Research Manager


Ms. Perlyn M. Pulhin-Yoshida, OML Research Curation and Development Manager and a graduate of the MS Environmental Science program, said that resilience is critical for communities in climate change.

Disasters severely affect our livelihoods, and in the case of post-Yolanda (Haiyan) recovery efforts, it is a daunting task to help affected areas. Tacloban City is well known as the ground zero of Typhoon Yolanda, however other urban areas in eastern Visayas are also devastated. For instance, another densely populated urban area west of Tacloban is Ormoc City. With a population of 191,200, Ormoc is the largest city in Leyte with 613.6 km2. It also suffered a severe flash flood in 1991 with Tropical Storm Uring. The massive mudslide killed more than 3,000 and this tragedy would have given the city a painful lesson and should have prepared them better with Typhoon Yolanda.   

Ms. Perlyn M. Pulhin-Yoshida, a Research Curation and Development Manager of the Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Foundation, Inc., discussed her study entitled“Assessing Climate Disaster Resilience of Ormoc City, Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda”, last February 27, 2017 at SESAM Lecture Hall, UP Los Baños.

Her study was the first attempt to compare the perception of communities with that of the local government unit (LGU) on climate disaster resilience and also pioneered the use of Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) in comparing the perception of the communities and the LGU on various factors that contributes to resilience. It aims to assess the climate disaster resilience of selected communities in Ormoc City after Typhoon Yolanda, based on the five dimensions: natural, physical, social, economic and institutional.

Her methodology includes desk review, survey of 250 households, focus group discussions (FGD), key informant interviews (KII), correlation, construction of Climate Disaster Resilience Index (CliDRI) using the balanced weighted approach and AHP tool.

The assessment revealed the average resilience level of the selected coastal communities in Ormoc to climate-related disasters. Factors contributing to the economic dimension appeared to be the weakest. Since the overall level of economic resilience is low, determinants of this dimension should be prioritized in the immediate or short-term to enhance resilience in Ormoc City.

“There are differences in resilience perception between the community and LGU of what contributes to the resilience of Ormoc and the varying weights and scores per dimensions and indicators are important for future planning to ensure well-aligned priorities and maximum community cooperation towards a more climate disaster resilient Ormoc City,” according to Ms. Pulhin-Yoshida.

Ms. Pulhin-Yoshida added that to improve social resilience, interventions may come in the form of proper urban planning at the municipal/provincial level to control the population growth in areas that are already over populated and that are prone to climate-related disasters; better health services and advisory to help achieve a healthy community; improved but reasonable educational programs to increase enrollees and 
enhance learning;
wider and more active public campaigns on climate-related hazards; their impacts and CCA-DRRM measures; and
better access to basic social services before, during and after a disaster.

JESAM regular and special issues for 2016 out now


The Journal of Environmental Science and Management (JESAM), an international refereed and Web of Science-indexed journal, published semi-annually by the School of Environmental Science and Management- University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB), released its two regular issues in June and December 2016. It also published two thematic special issues in same year.

The current issue, JESAM Volume 19 No. 2 (2016), features nine full articles from five different countries and one review paper from China. Six articles discussed efforts towards conservation of natural resources using different approaches namely; evaluation of local perception and water quality for sustainable agricultural utilization; survey of local communities' knowledge, attitude, and perception; ridge-to-reef ecosystem-based valuation approach; Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA; evaluation of the Integrated Water Resource Management; and development of a River Health Status Model. The first article is from Serbia while the rest are from the Philippines. Also in this issue are three articles that assessed the unfavorable effects of unplanned human activities and technological innovation, i.e., the negative impacts of human activities on famous archaeological sites in Egypt; environmental and health hazards of radioactive exposure around uranium mine sites in Namibia; and the social and environmental effects of a planned advanced transportation system in Pakistan. Several issues about Cyanobacteria blooms in the eutrophic Taihu Lake in China were the focus in the review paper.

JESAM Volume 19 No. 1 (2016) consists of ten articles from the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Three of which focused on addressing environmental pollution, particularly on the evaluation of a natural seed gum extract using artificial neural network to treat reactive dye wastewater in Vietnam, identification of native plants with phytoremediation potential in petroleum-contaminated sites in Malaysia, and assessment of the environmental contributions of vegetable production systems in the Philippines. Another three articles discussed climate-change-related topics, and these include the vulnerability assessment of households in the Philippines using the Vulnerability as Expected Poverty (VEP) approach, the adaptation strategies of smallholder agroforestry farmers in the country, and the climate change awareness and farm level adaptation of farmers in rainfed areas in Vietnam. The rest of the articles are also from the Philippines and they dealt with the conservation of natural resources, specifically the fishery resources in a small island, freshwater fishes in Lake Taal River Systems, water resources in a watershed, and mangrove forests in a protected landscape and seascape in an island.

The JESAM Special Issue No. 1 (2016), with the theme, “Building Resilience to Climate Risk among Upland and Rural Communities in Southeast Asia,” includes seven articles and two research notes that focused on the challenges of climate change that smallholder farmers and rural communities in Southeast Asia are facing. The papers also provided recommendations on how these farmers can mitigate climate risks and how to increase their capacity to adapt to climate changes. This special issue was sponsored by the World Agroforestry Centre – Philippines (ICRAF). 

On the other hand, the JESAM Special Issue No. 2 (2016) is composed of articles selected from the papers presented during the First National Conference on Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (INREM), which was conducted on 16-17 October 2014 at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines. This issue showcases nine articles based from studies conducted in different parts of the Philippines. Its publication was sponsored by INREM, a center managed by the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center (IDSC) mandated to develop science-based technologies and solutions pertaining to natural resources management and environmental protection.   

As a leading journal in environmental science published by UPLB and supported by the CHED-Journal Accreditation Services (JAS), JESAM continues to publish pioneering papers relevant for a science- and evidence-based decision-making process. Full text of the articles in these and other issues of JESAM may be accessed via the links: and Journal copies are likewise available through subscription. Inquiries may be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> (Cherry S. Padilla).

NASA Scientist Opens Research Opportunities in the Field of Lake Water Monitoring


Balik-Scientist tour of duty. Dr. Josefino Comiso is back in the country for another series of lecture and collaborations.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Senior Scientist, Dr. Josefino Comiso, presented about the Application of Remote Sensing in Monitoring Water Quality and Lake Surface Water Uses, and Land Use Change of Laguna de Bay Basin, at NCAS Auditorium, College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB, last Febuary 13, 2017.

Dr. Comiso started off with an overview of NASA’s activities, and the various satellites they launched for different missions and purposes. NASA is collating all the satellite images, and they are also in charge of processing these satellite data into different levels of interpretations and usage, ranging from Level 0 to Level 4. At higher levels, the satellite data are processed into more useful parameters and formats.

Using the different levels of processed data, Dr. Comiso showed satellite images of Laguna de Bay, and presented how students and researchers can use these remotely sensed data to interpret and monitor the level of pollutions of the lake. Dr. Comiso emphasized on two important measures in using satellite images for monitoring and research purposes. First, he mentioned the importance of identifying and establishing parameters that research studies want to look at. Even with the availability of data, researchers must prioritize a number of parameters they want to study and quantify.

Second, he emphasized the importance of conducting time series analysis. An effective time series analysis, through continuous monitoring and analyzing of available data, should be done for at least 30 years of satellite data. This time series analysis will allow researchers to establish or observe an occurring trend, or describe a recurring activity in the selected study area. 

The bottomline of the lecture was how the academe can use these freely available data – both to establish a new monitoring methodology, and to complement existing field monitoring protocols.

Dr. Comiso will have his next lecture on Drought Forecasting in the Philippines on May 20, at NCAS Auditorium.

Project SARAI Pre-tests Training Toolkit for Corn

Dr. Cayabyab-SARAI

Dr. Cayabyab from NCPC, UPLB giving lecture on pests of corn.

As an essential step in the development of educational program interventions, a “Pre-testing for SARAI Training Toolkit for Corn” was held last 24-25 January 2017 at the Institute of Cooperatives and Bio-Enterprise Development (ICOPED) Auditorium, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). The activity was participated by the Provincial Corn Coordinator, Municipal Agricultural Officers, Agricultural Technicians, and Farmer Leaders from Occidental Mindoro and San Pablo, Laguna.

The SARAI Training Toolkit for Corn was developed by the SARAI Project 4 (Capacity- and Knowledge-Building) component, with the help of SARAI experts. This will serve as a guide for agricultural extension workers in capacitating the farmers with SARAI-generated knowledge and other essential information regarding agriculture. The overall content structure of this toolkit puts greater emphasis on enabling users to easily understand technical concepts and to develop a better appreciation of the different interacting factors that affect corn production.

Volume 1 of the Toolkit, which is the Introduction to Project SARAI was presented at the start of the program by Ms. Heidi Mendoza, a University Researcher at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM). The SARAI Knowledge Portal was introduced and demonstrated by the SARAI’s system developer team headed by Professor Concepcion Khan of the Institute of Computer Science (ICS), UPLB. The volume on climate, weather, and climate change was discussed by Dr. Yusuf Sucol, also a University Researcher of SESAM, while Volume III, which is about pests and diseases of corn, was discussed by SARAI experts from the National Crop Protection Center, Dr.  Bonifacio Cayabyab and Mr. Melvin Ebuenga. A web/mobile application called Maize Nutrient Expert was demonstrated by Ms. Luzviminda Sazon, SARAI University Research Associate at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), UPLB. Lastly, a computer program called Water balanced-Assisted Irrigation Decision Support System or WAISS and a fabricated cost-efficient soil moisture sensor were presented by Engr. Yaminah Mochica Pinca and Engr. Marck Ferdie Eusebio. 

The pre-testing activity aimed to encourage the toolkit users to share their own unique ideas and to make their own contributions on how the concepts and information about corn can be useful to future users. The feedback from the participants will be used to improve the modules of the toolkit.

SARAI (Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines) is a project funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with UPLB as the implementing agency. It is managed by SESAM and is among the frontliners of the school in its research and development programs. Project SARAI is the UPLB’s answer to the growing need to strengthen the country’s agricultural sector amidst the challenges brought about by climate change.  It aims to develop an army of farmers who are climate-smart and who are confident in making science-based farming decisions. -RM Areglado, Loucel Cui and Cherry Padilla