Biology Department hosts International Symposium on Biodiversity as Economic Resource

An international symposium on biodiversity hosted by the Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering, brought together fifty participants from 14 institutions.
The International Symposium on Biodiversity as Economic Resource—Innovative Exploitation for Science and Society was held on January 18, 2016 at Faber Hall, Ateneo de Manila University. The gathering served as a platform for linking biodiversity, natural compound research and bioeconomy.
A core aim was to discuss ways to generate more value from biodiversity data and collections by making them available to all potential stakeholders – public and private, research institutions and companies, NGOs and government offices.
The occasion was organized by the Department of Biology in collaboration with the Biology Teachers Association of the Philippines (BIOTA) Ateneo de Manila Chapter and the Museum für Naturkunde [Museum of Natural History] Berlin, Germany.

University President, Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, S.J. warmly welcomed the participants and speakers to the Ateneo.


After the introduction and welcome remarks, five sessions of interesting and enlightening talks focused on “Integrated biodiversity assessments”, “Biodiversity information systems and molecular data”, “Biodiversity repositories”, “Innovative screening techniques for natural compounds” and “Microbial cultures and the search for new natural compounds”. 

The plenary speakers of the symposium (top, left to right): Prof. John Paul C. Vergara, PhD, Vice President for the Loyola Schools, Ateneo de Manila University; Marivene Manuel-Santos, Task Force Head, National Museum of the Philippines; Michael Balke, PhD, Curator for Coleoptera, Zoological State Collections Munich; Merab A. Chan, PhD, Chair of the Department of Biology, Ateneo de Manila University; Prof. Fabian Antonio M. Dayrit, PhD, Director of the National Chemistry Instrumentation Center, Ateneo de M


During a subsequent poster session, nine plenary speakers were asked to evaluate the scientific posters based on content quality, poster design, relevance to symposium topics, clarity and intelligibility. The best scientific poster prizes were awarded to David Emmanuel M. General, PhD (Museum of Natural History, University of the Philippines Los Baños); Anthony M. Baylon et al. (Department of Biology, Ateneo de Manila University); and Aimee Lynn Barrion-Dupo, PhD and Alberto T. Barrion, PhD (Institute of Biological Sciences & Museum of Natural History, University of the Philippines Los Baños).

Arrel P. Pascual (left), proudly receives one of the awards for the best posters on behalf of his team composed of Anthony M. Baylon, Dennis R. L. Valencia and him, all of them alumni of the AdMU Department of Biology, for their presentation “Towards the development of a Philippine freshwater bioindicator system: the impact of various environmental factors on water beetles in Mindoro”.


The late afternoon was reserved for the ‘World Café’. A discussion round in smaller groups served as an opportunity to talk more specifically about potential projects and collaborations. The participants agreed to elaborate further steps and funding opportunities and to follow up in eventual future meetings.

The General Director of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, Prof. Johannes Vogel, PhD chatting with ‘Fr. Jett’, the President of the Ateneo de Manila University.


Sincere thanks are also due to the symposium facilitators, namely Dr. Neil Tan Gana, Cyrell Ate, Ara Eda, Steve Chaves (left to right) as well as Dr. Hendrik Freitag who headed the team.


During a post-conference tour, the organizers provided the German delegates with the opportunity to visit the Museum of Natural History and the Botanical Garden of the University of the Philippines Los Baños as well as the National Museum of the Philippines, where Director Jeremy Barns kindly hosted a meeting for the guests.

Director Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez and his team guided the international guests around the UPLB Museum of Natural History.


Another highlight of the post-conference program was the visit of the construction site of the new building for the National Museum’s exhibit and collections of natural history. This great opportunity was offered by the Task Force Head Ms. Marivene Manuel-Santos.


The free symposium was made possible through funding of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Loyola Schools Internationalization Program of the Ateneo de Manila University. It continues the efforts in capacity building by the BIOPHIL project initiative to establish a consortium for biodiversity research with Philippine and German institutions.
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Representative of the Department of Biology on official visit in Germany

Biology students and faculty members return from practicum and training at Germany natural history museums


Photos courtesy of Department of Biology, Ateneo de Manila University