Two scientists of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) were recognized for their significant contributions in enriching the body of knowledge on rice science.
Dr. Reynante L. Ordonio, Scientist I, was distinguished as the 2021 Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) in the field of Agricultural Science by the National Academy of Science and Technology.
Ordonio, 40, joined PhilRice in 2004 as a researcher who specializes in molecular breeding. His works were published in high-impact journals such as Science, Nature Cell Research and Scientific Reports, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences-USA.
Currently, he leads the Healthier Rice Project at DA-PhilRice, a big-ticket project that applies modern biotechnology in breeding high beta carotene rice (Golden Rice) and high iron and zinc rice. He also leads the first rice gene editing project in the Institute, funded by the DA-Biotech Program Office.
Ordonio has recently made a major contribution in the crafting of the country’s first policy on the assessment of products of New Plant Breeding Techniques that includes gene editing as chair of the ad hoc technical working group under the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines. This will eventually have an impact on international trade and will facilitate modern biotech research in the country.
The OYS Awards are given to young Filipino scientists under 41 years old, who have made significant contributions to science and technology.
Meanwhile, Dr. Roel R. Suralta, also an OYS awardee in 2010, was upgraded to the rank of Career Scientist III by the Scientific Career Council, which makes him the only career scientist with the said rank in the Institute.
Suralta is a multi-awarded scientist who specializes in environmental stress physiology and root developmental biology. Among the many awards he received is the 2013 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award given by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
His papers on root plasticity in rice are published in top-tier journals and have hundreds of citations from researchers in the Philippines and abroad. His studies, which were implemented with his colleagues from DA-PhilRice, International Rice Research Institute, Nagoya University, and other local and international agencies, have far offered new perspectives on rice root adaptation in abiotic stress-prone growing-environments affected by climate change.
The Scientific Career System deals with the recruitment, career progression, recognition, and reward of scientists in the public service as a means of developing a pool of highly-qualified and productive scientific personnel. The system is co-implemented by the CSC and Department of Science and Technology.
Ordonio and Suralta are among the 12 active career scientists of DA-PhilRice.