Upgrading of laboratory facilities for agricultural biotechnology education

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Activities, News | 0 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

BSABT students weighing agarose for gel electrophoresis

 

7 April 2015

Developing a cadre of well-trained and highly productive agricultural scientists for sustainable agricultural development

The growing importance of Agricultural Biotechnology as a field of discipline is driven by the need of the country for experts in the application of biotechnology to improve agricultural production and maintain quality agro-environment. Based on the review of the research and development agenda of the Biotechnology Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA Biotech Program), at least 10 researchers are needed under the Program to work per crop, livestock or aquaculture species to ensure timely delivery of much-needed productivity-enhancing technologies. Based on the current commodity priorities under the DA Biotech Program, the need for experts would translate to at least 180 researchers involved in the implementation of biotechnology research and development to realize the set goals of the Program for the next 8 years.

With the challenges posed by high population growth rate, changing climate, decreasing production areas, and environmental factors that reduce agricultural production, it is imperative to continue to develop a cadre of well-trained and highly productive agricultural scientists to develop technologies that will help increase and sustain agricultural productivity.

As one of the leading universities in agricultural biotechnology research and development in the country, the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) identified Biotechnology as one of its key programs. In support to this, the UPLB College of Agriculture developed and implemented the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Biotechnology (BSABT) program with approval from the University of the Philippines Board of Regents.

With support from the DA Biotech Program, the University embarked on a project that upgraded existing laboratory facilities of the College of Agriculture for use of students enrolled in BSABT laboratory courses and major students who opt to conduct either research internship or thesis to ensure proper training and high quality research. Laboratory equipment procured included ABI Thermal Cycler, top loading balance, hot plate stirrer, pH meter, analytical balance, pipettors, among others. Five years ago, the BSABT Program through the collaborative effort of the Dean of  the College of Agriculture first obtained financial support from the Commission on Higher Education for the renovation of the laboratory and purchase of basic equipment and supplies. The upgrading initiative was founded on the anticipated increase of course enrollees.

The laboratory served various courses under the BSABT Program since its first offering in 2010 with laboratory class size of 9-17 students. Currently, more than 300 students are enrolled in the Program and has produced 28 graduates as of academic year 2013-2014 and 13 more new graduates as of first semester of 2014-2015.  The graduates of the Program have found employment at various units of UPLB; UP Diliman; International Rice Research Institute; the Department of Agriculture; Department of Science and Technology and other government agencies, e.g., Bureau of Plant Industry, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau and Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority; and private industry sector. Some of the graduates are also pursuing graduate studies in local universities and abroad. The Program is also proud of its 8 University scholars, 32 College scholars, 60 Honor Roll students, one magna cum laude, four cum laude, and one 10th placer in 2014 Agriculture Board Examination.

The BSABT-DA Biotech project has helped students to have better understanding of the various concepts in Agricultural Biotechnology and hone their skills in modern techniques in biotechnology. “Our students are grateful for the opportunity to have hands-on exercises using different basic state-of-the-art equipment for agricultural biotechnology research. They expressed their appreciation that they actually were able to use these equipment and not just see them in textbooks or hear in lectures,” remarked Dr. Evelyn Mae T. Mendoza, Professor Emeritus of UPLB and the former project leader.

She also said, “Faculty members are also very appreciative of these resources. They were able to effectively teach the students the various techniques, data generation and analysis involved in addressing agriculture challenges wherein biotechnology could provide solutions”.

UPLB is also one of the institutional partners in the DA Biotech Scholarship Program that is open to students wishing to specialize in the field of Agricultural Biotechnology and related disciplines.

 

For further details, you may contact:

 

Dr. Evelyn Mae Tecson-Mendoza (former project leader)
UPLB Professor Emeritus
Academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology
 
Dr. Evalour T. Aspuria (current project leader)
UPLB Associate Professor
Chair,  BS Agricultural Biotechnology Program Management Committee, UPLB
(049) 501-6649, (049), (049) 536-2468, (049) 543-0061

Dr. Roberta N. Garcia (co-project leader)
UPLB Associate Professor
Member,  BS Agricultural Biotechnology Program Management Committee, UPLB
(049)-576-0025
 
Dr. Antonio A. Alfonso
Director, DA Biotechnology Program Office
(02)927-0426, (02)922-0057

 
Source: DA Biotechnology Program Office

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