“We can’t talk about the Environment without Economics”- Northeastern University Professor

talakayan dr madhavi march 9 2018Dr. Madhavi Ventakesan, Professor of economics, discussed the importance of lifecycle evaluation during her lecture at SESAM last March 9, 2018.

An economics professor from the USA said that scientists and all stakeholders must not take economics for granted when it comes to environmental science and management. Dr. Madhavi Ventakesan, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Economics, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts highlighted this during her lecture entitled “A Lifecycle Evaluation of Conscious Consumption: Promoting Conscious Consumption” last March 09, 2018 at the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) Lecture Hall.

Dr. Ventakesan, who is concurrently the Associate Director of the Center for Economics Education, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, with post-graduate degrees from Harvard University, Vermont Law School and a post-doctoral degree from Washington University.

The purpose of her lecture is to analyze the individual consumption behaviors and to increase the understanding of the divergence between present consumption patterns.

Dr. Ventakesan emphasized that we live in a supply driven market and in a manufacture-demand economy. She said for example, there are so many gadgets in the market and due to the marketing strategies, we give in and the next day, we will buy one. But she reiterated that consumers must be aware of the adverse effects of what they buy and urged them to research first the things that they would like to purchase and should also look into the environmental footprint in relation to the production of these gadgets. “Values drive behavior, our consumption behavior is tied to our usage of resources”, she added.

“We cannot talk about environment without economics”, Dr. Ventakesan stressed. She said in every stages of the lifecycle process map-- from production, to use and disposal, we use energy and it generate wastes as well. “And of course during the production stage, we need raw materials”, she added. She mentioned that the process map must always be re-evaluated and updated.

The presentation was a Fullbright Sycip Distinguished Lecture organized by the SESAM and the UPLB Environmental Science Society (Envisoc). More than 100 students, faculty and staff attended the lecture.

Marine Conservation Discussed in “Talakayan”

2018 March 7 TalakayanDr. Mudjekeewis Santos (right) with Ms. Mariane Saniano (middle) and Dr. Victor Ticzon (left) discussed their projects for Philippine marine conservation.

The UPLB Environmental Science Society, in cooperation with the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) held the 41st Talakayan Series on Environment and Development (TSED) last March 7, 2018 at SESAM Grounds. With the theme “Philippine Progress on Marine Conservation: Where are we now?” the UPLB Environmental Science Society invited three resource speakers from different sectors to discuss the pressing issues hounding our seas.

The first speaker, Dr. Mudjekeewis D. Santos, Scientist II at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (NFRDI-BFAR) spoke about the current state of Philippine fisheries. “Philippine Fisheries is one of the largest in the world, in terms of fish production” Dr. Santos said. He said that if the industry collapse, the world will also suffer because other countries depend also in our exports. Further, despite having the large commercial fishing vessels capable of fishing anywhere in the world, our ordinary fishermen are still considered as the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable sector due to climate change. He added “The catch is getting lower and small fishermen must go further to the sea in order to catch more”. Dr. Santos, a Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee and Editor of the Philippine Journal of Fisheries said that based on studies, the country is considered the center of marine biodiversity in the world. “There are many publications that can prove that” according to Dr. Santos.

The second resource speaker is Ms. Marianne P. Saniano, a marine scientist of Oceana Philippines. Ms. Saniano, a graduate of UPLB, stressed that bodies of water in the Philippines is severely affected by climate change. “Everything we do affects our seas since we are an archipelagic nation”. She also mentioned that Oceana continues to work with government agencies and the academe help the fishing industry. “We also advocate the protection of our waters, especially right now with the Philippine Rise issue and we will continue to monitor the congress and senate for the legislation on this matter”, she added.

The third speaker, Dr. Victor S. Ticzon, Associate Professor, Institute of Biological Science-College of Arts and Sciences, UPLB, discussed his projects related to coral reef sensing, monitoring of changes in the coral reefs and the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) sites. “Coral reefs are good indicators of the changes in our environment” said Dr. Ticzon. He stressed that coral bleaching, acidification and sea level rise as well threatens our reefs. “If sea level rise continues, coral reefs will drown because they need sunlight to live” he added.  He also pointed out the garbage, mostly plastics and diapers in our seas are also destroying the ecosystem in the coral reefs.

Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM thanked the speakers for spending time to educate students, faculty and staff of SESAM about marine conservation.  The “Talakayan” is a regular activity of the UPLB Environmental Science Society, which aims to inform about the latest trends in environmental science and to enhance a greater appreciation of the discipline.

SESAM supports industry-academe linkage through Water Footprint Accounting

SESAM Laguna waterThe SESAM Research Team together with Mr. Perry Rivera (4th from right), President of Laguna Water Company.

A pioneering work that aims to account the water footprint of major land property developments in the country is currently being spearheaded and implemented by the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) and Manila Water Philippine Ventures. As one of the largest companies that provides freshwater to various development property all over the Philippines, Manila Water Company, Inc. (MWC) has seen the need to quantify and value both water consumed and polluted resulting from their business’ daily operations, both from residential and commercial properties. The project was aimed at providing solutions to the increasing issues of water scarcity, risks, and sustainability particularly at the corporate and industry levels. 

The research team, with Dr. Rico C. Ancog and Dr. Patricia Ann J. Sanchez as the project lead, presented the project’s results to the President of Laguna Water Company, Mr. Virgilio “Perry” C. Rivera, Jr., together with his team, last February 28, 2018 held at Laguna Water office in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Benchmarks for blue and grey water footprint of a business firm were computed covering both construction and operational phase. This would then provide definitive information on the impacts of water demand on the available water supply in the area. Correspondingly, responses to sustain freshwater supply across businesses establishments over time were formulated for inclusion in their strategic planning and management.

Through this project, SESAM further targets its aims of contributing to strengthening industry-academe linkage in the context of sustainable water management in the Philippines. (Christina Corales, Glenn Oca, and Alvin Dolores).

SESAM Professors publish research findings

Benham seamountHot issue. The government reasserts the country's sovereign rights on the Benham Bank below the Philippine Sea, as part of its continental shelf. Dr. Hildie Marie Nacorda, SESAM Professor, published her recent study on the coral reef of the seamount. 

Drs. Hildie Marie E. Nacorda and Mark Dondi M. Arboleda, Assistant Professors, School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Laguna, Philippines recently published their research findings at the Journal of Environmental Science and Management (JESAM).

Dr. Nacorda’s article, “Beneath 50 m of NW Pacific Water: Coral Reefs on the Benham Bank Seamount off the Philippine Sea”, revealed the richness of the pristine reefscape of the seamount documented thru oceanographic sampling, voucher specimens collection, and opportunistic fishing. The article is co-authored with Romeo M. Dizon, of the Department of Biology, College of Science, University of the Philippines Baguio; Cleto L. Nañola, Jr., of the Department of Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies, College of Science and Mathematics, University of the Philippines Mindanao; Patrice Bianca L. Roa-Chio and Fra-and Timothy R. Quimpo, of the McKeough Marine Center, Xavier University–Ateneo de Cagayan; Wilfredo Roehl Y. Licuanan, of the Department of Biology, College of Science, De La Salle University; Diovanie O. De Jesus, Porfirio M. Aliño, and Cesar L. Villanoy, from The Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman; and, Homer B. Hernandez and Lambert Anthony B. Meñez, also part of the Benham Rise exploration team.

Proudly the first Philippine research conducted in the site, the paper accounts for the “first records of mesophotic coral reef biodiversity” found on the Benham Bank- a seamount on the then Benham Rise, now the Philippine Rise by virtue of Executive Order No. 25 series of 2017.  It is, in fact, a hot issue nowadays as discussions arise as to the sovereign rights of the Philippines over this undersea region. The project was a Joint Cruise by the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), UP Los Baños thru SESAM, and the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR). It was funded by the Department of Science and Technology.  Nacorda is a Study Leader of the project.

On the other hand, Arboleda’s paper titled, “Utilization of Putative Enterobacter Isolate and Substrates for Microbial Fuel Cells”, is based from an experiment that explored the potential of wastes as substrate for microbial fuel cells (MFC) to generate alternative energy. Over corn stover and domestic sewage, Dr.Arboleda discovered that fish farm sediments are the most practical substrates as they produced the highest voltage. He used an improvised MFC made of PVC pipes and food jars for this set-up.

These two papers were published in the Volume 20 No. 2 December 2017 issue of JESAM- an online and in-print semi-annual publication of SESAM-UPLB. It is an international peer-reviewed scientific journal indexed by the Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics), Elsevier BV Sciverse Scopus, Asean Citation Index, and is supported by the Philippine Commission on Higher Education.

These publications are available at the JESAM website (http://jesam-uplb.org) and at the UPLB Journals Online (https://journals.uplb.edu.ph/index.php/JESAM) (Cherry S. Padilla).


Project SARAI TechDep seminar conducted in Isabela

SARAI IsabelaParticipants during the SARAI field work at DA Cagayan Valley Research Center, Isabela.

The Deployment and Validation of SARAI Technologies (Project SARAI TechDep) conducted a training entitled “Bringing Smarter Technologies Closer to the Community” last February 5, 2018 at Department of Agriculture (DA)-Cagayan Valley Research Center, Ilagan, Isabela. Thirty-five municipal agriculture officers and agricultural technicians from the province of Isabela attended the training.

Dr. Loucel E. Cui, University Researcher II of the School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), presented the project and the different technologies and systems it developed for the past three years. The SARAI Knowledge Portal, which serves as the central hub of SARAI was also introduced to the participants. While the Maize Nutrient Expert, a software developed by International Plant Nutrition Institute was discussed through a hands-on training using their mobiles phones/tablets and laptops.

Experts from the College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology-Institute of Agricultural Engineering (CEAT-IAE) namely, Prof. Keynty Boy V. Magtoto, Engr. Yaminah Mochica M. Pinca, and Dr. Ronaldo B. Saludes, discussed the SARAI Soil Moisture Monitoring System. Included in their discussion were the soil moisture basic concepts, types of soil moisture meter, and the SARAI Soil Moisture Meter and Sensor. The team also presented the SARAI Soil Moisture Sensor-Based Irrigation Scheduler (SMSIS), a spreadsheet where the users of the SARAI Soil Moisture Meter and Sensor will input their data to know if their crop needs irrigation.

The last part of the training was the installation of the SARAI Soil Moisture Sensors in a corn field provided by DA-CVRC. The participants were shown the actual installation and reading of data from SARAI Soil Moisture Meter and Sensor. The said training was conducted in partnership with Cagayan Valley Agricultural and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (CVAARRD) and DA-CVRC.

Following its initial endeavors, SARAI is primed to proceed to its second phase and continue to develop and implement science-based crops, technologies, protocols and long term strategies geared towards maximizing crop yield and minimizing adverse environmental and climate impacts on selected crops. The Phase 2 of SARAI will start this year and will end on the year 2021. The project will focus on rice, corn, banana, coconut, coffee, cacao, sugarcane, and soybean. (RM Areglado)


SESAM Conducts Orientation for new students


Dr. Decibel Eslava, Dean, SESAM, told the new students during the orientation that "patience" is the key for the success of their studies.

The School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) and the UPLB Environmental Science Society (EnviSoc) conducted a back-to-back orientation and general assembly last January 30, 2018 at SESAM Lecture Hall.

For this second semester 2017-28, there are 15 new MS and six new PhD students enrolled in the environmental science program.

During the orientation, Dr. Decibel F. Eslava, Dean of SESAM thanked the new students who chose environmental science as their post-graduate course.  “Thanks for choosing to hone your knowledge and skills here in UPLB-SESAM”, Dr. Eslava said. She also told that the Office of the Dean and the Program for Instruction will always be welcome to assist them if they have a problem or issue regarding their studies. She also advised students to be patient with their studies, with the people they interact with, and even the facilities and equipment that they will use at SESAM.

Dr. Carmelita M. Rebancos, head of SESAM’s Program for Instruction briefed the new students with the policies, requirements, rules and regulations while taking the environmental science program. These include the pre-qualifying exam, subjects to be taken, cognate, written and oral comprehensive exams, thesis/dissertation and defense.

For her part, Dr. Loucel E. Cui, University Researcher II and current Laboratory Manager, introduced the SESAM Analytical Laboratory and the equipment available for student’s use.

For the first time in a SESAM student orientation, an anti-sexual harassment lecture was presented. Dr. Maria Helen H. Dayao, former head of the Office of the Anti-Sexual Harassment (OASH) and gender and development expert, discussed the coverage of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law. She also advised the new students on how to interact and the behavior towards co-students, faculty and staff of the university. Dr. Dayao also discussed the possible penalties and punishment if an individual is found guilty of committing sexual harassment.

After the orientation, the UPLB EnviSoc, led by their president, Ms. Myleen L. Magistrado conducted a general assembly. Also present during the general assembly is SESAM professor Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Junior Adviser of the society.