Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ: Jesuit, scientist, and musician

from Ateneo de Manila University:

date posted: 2011-06-10 09:32:26
By Julie Javellana-Santos

When Fr. Jose Villarin, or Fr. Jett, was a student in second year college, Fr. Nebres, the college dean, began recruiting him. He would take him to Antipolo to drink and discuss being a Jesuit,

Years later, before his final vows, he went for Physics studies at Marquette University in Wisconsin, known for its strength in science.

Fr. Ben was the Provincial although Fr. Jett wanted to stay in Manila and take part in protests alongside his classmates, Fr. Ben gave him a physics book and said, “Go to Marquette University and study.”

“Had I not gone, I would have lost my interest in science,” Fr. Jett says for he wanted to join his classmates who were rallying People Power Revolution in February 1986.

Fr. Jett obtained his MS physics in 1987 and went home knowing that four years later, he would again be sent out to study.

Armed with a master’s degree, Fr. Jett completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest at Sta. Maria Della Strada in April 1991. Then he went to Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia where he obtained a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Physics in 1997.

In 1997, Fr. Jett returned to Loyola Heights and worked his way up in the hierarchy in the Manila Observatory. He eventually became Associate Director for Research before the Provincial, in 2005, named him president of Xavier University.

Fr. Jett served in Cagayan for almost 7 years. He was elected Ateneo de Manila University president last June 29, 2010 and his term is from June 1, 2011 to March 31,

Early life and education

Fr. Jett was born in Manila on January 30, 1960. He started at Lourdes School in Sta. Mesa Hts, QC and went to the Ateneo for high school in 1972.

In 1980 received a BS Physics at the Ateneo, graduating magna cum laude. He was also voted the class valedictorian.

Fr. Jett as a Jesuit

After a year as a Jesuit Volunteer Philippines, he entered the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches in May 1981, where he spent the next two years. He returned to the Loyola Heights campus in 1983 where he obtained an AB Philosophy and a bachelor of Sacred Theology degree, summa cum laude, in 1985. He was ordained priest in April 1991. He then did graduate work in the Marquette University and completed his master’s educations in 1987.

Fr. Jett the scientist

Fr. Jett served in various capacities throughout his career as a scientist. He worked in Georgia Tech as a graduate research assistant and once was a researcher in the Laser Laboratory of the Ateneo.

But it was his work in global warming and climate change which won him acclaim. He was the Global Change Scholar at Georgia Institute of Technology even before he got his doctorate. He had the distinction of winning in 1997 Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences’ Best Graduate Student Research Award.

In 2000, Fr. Jett was awarded National Outstanding Young Scientist by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). In 2007 NAST also awarded him its Outstanding Book Award for “Disturbing Climate.”

Fr. Jett later joined the intergovernmental panel on climate change, a team which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

He is also an active member of several local and international environment and climate committees, such as the United Nations’ Consultative Group of Experts for Developing Countries, and the Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change, among others.

Fr. Jett the musician

Fr. Jett is also a musician. In an unobtrusive part of his temporary office at the Ateneo de Manila sits a keyboard, under wraps just like his penchant for singing and playing the guitar.

In fact, Fr. Jett played the guitar and sang with the *Sanustraba* band at the Xavier University’s Students Assembly in July 2010 ( He has also been filmed playing the piano ( in a relaxed moment while at the helm of Xavier University.

Fr. Jett – Jesuit, scientist, musician, dreaming of great things.

“This is the place where I learned to dream, to dream of greater things, to do greater things. I honestly believe this is the place where heroes are made, where our heroic desires are nurtured. And so I plan to just build that environment and continue to nurture those great dreams for ourselves, for our people, and as we say, for the greater glory of God.”


About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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