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DOST-PCAARRD kicks off capacity building initiative for undergraduate students with MSU GenSan tuna research

DOST-PCAARRD kicks off capacity building initiative for undergraduate students with MSU GenSan tuna research

TREK Project Leader Christine Dawn G. Obemio presenting the salient features of the project. (Image credit: Sharmaine Phoebe B. Sumiran)

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) expands its effort to encourage Filipino youth to engage in the sector of agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) with its new initiative.

The Undergraduate Research and Education Assistantship for Technology (uGREAT) Program seeks to provide chosen scholars with financial support and cutting-edge research facilities as a pivotal training ground. The initiative shall involve undergraduate students in R&D endeavors aligned with DOST-PCAARRD's strategic priorities, equipping them to excel in their academic pursuits. With uGREAT, DOST-PCAARRD aims to nurture a pipeline of adept researchers poised to contribute to the sustainability and advancement of the AANR domain

In its maiden voyage, DOST-PCAARRD partners with Mindanao State University (MSU) General Santos Campus to spearhead a 15-month undertaking to assess the vitality of identified tuna species of Sarangani Bay. The “Tuna Research Exploring Keynotes (TREK): Charting the Health and Ecology of Tuna Species in Sarangani Bay Project,” led by Dr. Christine Dawn Galope-Obemio, will open opportunities for 15 undergraduate students to support the research on the array of factors impacting tuna health. The research will look into the influence of parasites and microplastics, the presence of heavy metals, and the broader ecological dynamics of tuna habitats.  Notably, these investigations will not only bridge crucial knowledge gaps in tuna ecology, but will also double as the students' undergraduate theses, offering a multifaceted learning experience.

Dr. Mari-Ann M. Acedera, Director of DOST-PCAARRD’s Marine Resources Research Division (MRRD) recalled that the program was considered an off-shoot of the positive results of the University’s “Reproductive Biology Studies, Dietary Analysis, and Life-History of Philippine Tuna Species towards Sustainable Fishing Industry in Mindanao” under the Tuna R&D Program.

Chancellor Usman D. Aragasi and Vice Chancellor for Research, Extension and Innovation Jaime A. Namocatcat of Mindanao State University-General Santos. (Image credit: Sharmaine Phoebe B. Sumiran)

MSU GenSan Chancellor JD Usman D. Aragasi expressed gratitude for DOST's substantial investment in the university. “The only thing we can give as a counterpart is we try to raise the bar on accountability.” Chancellor Aragasi also shared his hopes for the adoption of the uGREAT program by other MSU campuses.

“This is our very first uGREAT program so these are exciting times. What differentiates this program from the regular R&D program, is its capability building component. We want to go down to the level of undergraduates and hopefully high-school, to encourage the young generation to go into agriculture and natural resources, and really pursue a profession in agriculture,” said Dr. Fezoil Luz C. Decena, Director of DOST-PCAARRD’s Institution Development Division. 

“If this project will be successful, this can be one of the models that we can follow, particularly in Mindanao,” concluded Dr. Decena.