Study on Banana Plant Disease Tops BPI-DOST Science Awards

Aiming to aid the banana industry in its fight against fungal disease epidemics 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.

(Story continues after the photo.)

The top three winners of this year’s BPI-DOST Science Awards: Christian John Capirig of Ateneo de
Davao University and Raiza Elmira Imperial of UP Diliman (third and second from right, respectively),
and Alron Jan Lam of De La Salle University (second from left) flash their trophies as they pose with
BPI Foundation Inc. executive director Fidelina Corcuera (left), BPI president Cezar Consing (right), and DOST-SEI Director Dr. Josette Biyo (third from left).

Christian John Capirig, a BS Biology student, bested seven other finalists from the University of the Philippines Diliman, De la Salle University, and the 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 a big help to the country’s multi-billion-peso banana industry. Banana remains one of the leading export income earners for Filipino farmers despite the losses in recent years due to typhoons and diseases, including Fusarium Wilt.

Capirig receives a DOST scholarship along with his trophy and a Php50,000 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 Php30,000 in cash for her project, which is targeted at minimizing the damage from 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 with indoor setups. He brought home a trophy and Php10,000 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: 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.

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2015 issue.

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