SESAM supports World Day to Combat Desertification

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On June 17, 2016, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD) will observe World Day to Combat Desertification to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of programs especially in countries severely affected of drought. This year's slogan is "Protect Earth. Restore Land. Encourage People".

Philippines is one of Parties to the Convention and will join in the celebration of this particular day with a series of outreach activities to develop awareness and advocacy towards a long term sustainable land management. 

The World Day to Combat Desertification is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels.



COE plaque

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) formally granted the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) the Center of Excellence (COE) in Environmental Science during the celebration of CHED’s 22nd anniversary and Higher Education Week last May 17, 2016 at the CHED Auditorium, HEDC Building, Diliman, Quezon City.

Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM attended the event and received the plaque from CHED. Aside from environmental science, UP Los Baños was designated COE in the fields of Agriculture, Forestry, Veterinary Medicine, Information Technology, Statistics, and Development Communication.

According to CHED, the Center of Excellence (COE) is granted to a department within a higher education institution which continuously demonstrates excellent performance in the areas of instruction, research and publication, extension and linkages and institutional qualifications. SESAM was also a CHED Center of Development from 2010 to 2015. 

Eslava, Rebancos New UP Scientists

SESAM UP Scientists

Drs. Decibel F. Eslava and Carmelita M. Rebancos appointed as new UP Scientist I (top); Drs. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon and Leonardo M. Florece, continuing (bottom)

School of Environmental Science and Management professors Dr. Decibel F. Eslava and Dr. Carmelita M. Rebancos were appointed as new UP Scientist I by the UP Board of Regents during its 1317th meeting on April 28, 2016.

Also approved by the UP BOR is the appointment of SESAM professors Drs. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon and Leonardo M. Florece as continuing UP Scientists. Currently, there are 46 faculty members who have been awarded as UP Scientists in UPLB.

The appointments of the new UP Scientists are valid from 2015 to 2017; on the other hand, renewed appointments are valid for 2016 to 2018. The appointed faculty members will receive a monthly monetary award as UP Scientists.

The UP Board of Regents established the UP Scientist program in August 2005 to support the development of science and technology and to encourage and reward scientific productivity. Faculty members are evaluated based on their publications in refereed reputable journals and books.

SESAM Faculty Awarded as UP’s Google Citation Scholars

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Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon (left) and Dr. Decibel F. Eslava (right) were recognized as UP's Google Citation Scholars.

The University of the Philippines System awarded Drs. Decibel F. Eslava and Maria Victoria O. Espaldon as UP’s Google Citation Scholars during a banquet on the eve of the Utak ay Puso Para sa Bayan (A Knowledge Festival) on 17-19 April 2016 at Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City.

Drs. Eslava and Espaldon were recognized as UP’s Google Citation Scholars. Dr. Eslava has an h-index of 9 and 172 number of citations. Meanwhile, Dr. Espaldon has h-index of 6 with 995 citations. Their high citation marks contributed to the improvement of UP's academic reputation.

With high citations, both SESAM professors are considered as champions of UP ideals in the local and global academic research community and serves as inspiration to young UP researchers.

Energy and Environment Cluster Exhibit Bags First Place in UP Knowledge Festival

EIDR exhibit for Biosphere

The EIDR exhibit on Laguna de Bay was under the Energy and Environment Cluster during the UP Knowledge Festival at taal Vista Hotel Last April 17 to 19, 2016.

The University of the Philippines showcased the knowledge, technologies, etc. of different projects implemented by the UP system through its top scientists and artists in the areas of food production, health, climate change, energy, environment, technology, education and more.

This event was called UP Knowledge Festival: Utak at Puso para sa Bayan, which is a three—day event held at the Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City last Aprl 17-19, 2016. Its goal is to create artistic awareness and scientific literacy in the country through exhibits for the people to see what UP senior and junior researchers and scientists has been doing inside the laboratories and the creative works of artists are “timely, relevant and beneficial to the community and the nation”, as explains by Vice President for Academic Affairs Gisela P. Concepcion.

The energy, environment and ecotourism cluster won 1st place for the best cluster exhibit. This cluster is composed of 17 projects divided into geosphere, biosphere, humanosphere and hydrosphere. The Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Project entitled Ten Years After the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment of Laguna de Bay: Towards a sustainable future leaded by Dr. Ma. Victoria Espaldon is one of the Projects under this cluster. They presented the “The Dying Lake: Why is Laguna de Bay in critical state and what can be done to save it?”

EIDR studied the health of Laguna de Bay, which was last comprehensively evaluated through the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Results of the work clearly showed a dying water body that needed immediate attention. This research aims to come up with recommendations that will support a more sustainable management of the lake through the integration of information from different disciplines. 

The project has four components, namely: hazards, which aims to study geophysical hazards in the area and understand their potential impacts to communities for their consideration in their development plans; pollution, which characterize the lake in terms of pollution levels through the analyses of water and sediment samples and develop pollution monitoring proxies using environmental magnetism; socio-eco millennium ecosystem assessment, which aims to produce a synthesis of state-of-the-art information on Laguna de Bay and generate new baselines and provide indicators on how the targets recommended after the MA have been met or missed; and watershed, which aims to characterize the biophysical aspects of the watersheds and evaluate land use changes and identify critical areas through watershed vulnerability assessment.

EIDR is a collaboration of the School of Environmental Science and Management, College of Forestry and Natural Resources-UPLB, Rushurgent Working Group, National Institute of Geological Sciences-UP Diliman, Institute of Chemistry, Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics-UP Manila and School of Civil, Environmental and Geologic Engineering, Mapua Institute of Technology.

Meanwhile, the Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change cluster won 2nd place in the exhibit where also one of the projects of SESAM entitled Smarter Agriculture to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry (Project SARAI) is included. 

SM Benthos Project Conducts Fish Visual Survey Training

BRUVS Hildie

Dr. Hildie Marie Nacorda, SESAM Professor and SM Benthos Project Leader, is delighted to use the BRUVS in the Fish Visual Survey Training on April 20 to 22, 2016 at SEARCA.


The SM Benthos Project (Assessment of the Benthic Resources of the Benham Bank Seamount) Conducts the Training on Fish Visual Surveys Using BRUVS and SeaGIS Software from April 20 until April 22 at SEARCA, UP Los Baños, Laguna.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture, Forestry, Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) funded this three-day training, in cooperation with Oceana Philippines.

The training aims to demonstrate BRUVS (Baited Remote Underwater Video System), which will be used in fish visual surveys and analyze the data acquired using the SeaGIS software.

Atty. Gloria E. Ramos, Vice President of Oceana Philippines, said the BRUVS is an advance equipment for underwater exploration. “Our seas are pressured by both human and environmental threats… we would like to encourage more scientists to use these safe and harmless technologies to study our oceans”, said Atty. Ramos.

The BRUVS was manufactured in the US and will be donated by Oceana Philippines to the SM Benthos Project. The US Embassy facilitated the transfer of the equipment that will be used by the SM Benthos team in their next expedition in Benham Rise in May 2016. “The US is really concerned about the Marine Protected Areas and illegal fishing activities in the Philippines, and of course climate change which severely affects our seas”, said Mr. Richard Bakewell, Economic Officer, US Embassy Manila.

Dr. Edwin Villar, Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development of PCAARRD said that nowadays there are many who are more concerned in the West Philippine Sea, however, there are a lot to discover in the Philippine Sea, particularly in the Benham region. “The council wishes the SM Benham team the best in its next exploration this May”, Dr. Villar added.

Dr. Portia G. Lapitan, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, UPLB, thanked Oceana Philippines and the US Embassy for these technologies, as well as PCAARRD for the continuing support to UPLB’s research and development. “UPLB is known for agriculture, forestry, climate change and biotechnology, but this research in marine sciences is a result of an active and collective effort to go beyond its niche, indicative of its pursuit of studying new fields”, Dr. Lapitan stressed.

In the three-day training, the BRUVS will be demonstrated at the Baker Hall swimming pool. About 20 participants from the UP Marine Science Institute, Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Research (DA-BFAR) and UP Los Baños attended this training.