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PSM News Letter July 2020
The Microbiology Consortium Council of the Philippines, headed by Academician Asuncion K. Raymundo, spearheaded a number of very pertinent activities this year. The first in the line up was a seminar-workshop entitled “Science Policy Forum on Microbial OMICS for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development held at the Acacia Hotel, Muntinlupa City lastFebruary 26, 2020. The event was co-sponsored by the National Academy of Science and Technology and The Philippine Society for Microbiology, Inc., and was attended by a total of 58 participants from 29 higher education institutions (HEIs). The forum assembled six experts in various fields of omics who brought to the fore how microorganisms can be harnessed using innovative applications, for the benefit of humans. Dr. Francis L. de los Reyes III delivered the first talk entitled “Linking the Microbiome to Function in Treatment Systems: Beyond Who’s There”, which dealt with how fats, oil and grease (FOG) from households can be utilized as energy sources through metabolic engineering of microorganisms associated with those domestic wastes. Academician Gisela P. Concepcion’s talk centered on microbiological metabolites that can be derived from microbial
“In their stead, the group has organized three webinars to help the faculty of the member HEIs of the consortium in designing their courses for the remote learning platform.“
tamilok. The metabolites, she disclosed, have potential for use in the healthcare sector as alternative solutions to the global problem of antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Cecilia G. Conaco, on the other hand, reported about her research team’s findings on how transcriptomics revealed sponge-microbe partnership under different environmental conditions. In the talk “Environmental Monitoring and Proteomics of Natural Toxins”, Dr. Leopold L. Ilag discussed the use of available methods like liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) in his research studies while reiterating the importance of exploring new methods for the purpose of environmental monitoring and proteomics of natural toxins. Further, Dr. Walter A. Laviña gave an account of how a low carbon society
can be developed through the use of biofuels that are in turn created by the metabolic engineering of certain bacteria. Lastly, Dr. Doralyn S. Dalisay expressed the need to have science-based policies for microbial resource mining and environmental protection in her talk that focused on antibiotic-producing microorganisms isolated from marine sediments collected in various parts of the Philippines.
The day was bookended by a workshop that aimed to ‘craft science-based policy recommendations that will promote environmental protection and management through the utilization if microbial omics’. The
workshop had four breakout groups, namely, education, industry, research, and environmental monitoring. The workshop reports will be forwarded to NAST then to other concerned government agencies. Two other major activities scheduled by the MCC for the fiscal year were cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In their stead, the group has organized three webinars to help the faculty of the member HEIs of the consortium in designing their courses for the remote learning platform. These webinars, held on June 11, June 25 and July 2, 2020, are very timely and relevant in the current academic landscape. The first in the series discussed the use of blended/flexible learning in microbiology courses. The
“Mindful of the needs of all its members, the chair of the MCC board has also tasked all board members in steering the creation of various remote learning materials in time for the opening of classes.“
main speaker, Dr. Iris Thiel Isip-Tan, Director of the Interactive Learning Center in University of the Philippines Manila shared her expertise on the subject matter while Dr. Marilen P. Balolong (UP Manila) and Prof. John Daniel P. Ong (UP Los Baños) presented lecture and laboratory modules that they have developed, respectively. The next webinar that dealt with the topic “Designing Learning for Microbiology Courses in Remote Instruction” had Dr. Maria Rowena D.R. Raymundo, chair of the Master of Distance Education program at the University of the
Philippines Open University, as the sole speaker. The last in the series was once again headlined Dr. Raymundo and Dr.
Balolong where they talked through different assessment approaches that can be used for remote teaching.
Mindful of the needs of all its members, the chair of the MCC board has also tasked all board members in steeringthe creation of various remote learning materials in time for the opening of classes. They are currently coordinating with other HEIs in their respective regions for the collaborative development of the course modules. UPDiliman, Cavite State University, UP Visayas, Mariano Marcos State University, and Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology are the lead institutions for microbial physiology, microbial ecology, virology, food microbiology, and industrial microbiology, respectively. UPLB will serve in the capacity of a consultant for certain courses. On top of these, they were also assigned to make modules for laboratory exercises in basic microbiology. It is
envisioned that all these course packets will be uploaded to a common educational learning website that will serve as repository for all learning resources prepared by member HEIs of the consortium.
The pandemic has upended different facets of human life including the educational landscape. Though the challenges faced by Philippine HEIs in general, and the MCC in particular are quite onerous, strong leadership and collaborative spirit would bring the visions of the board