Physics faculty honored at University Scholarly Work Awards 2018


From left to right: University President Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ, Physics Department Chair Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero, Dr. James Bernard B. Simpas, Dr. Ma. Obiminda L. Cambaliza, Dr. Christian Lorenz S. Mahinay, Dr. Michael R. Mananghaya, SOSE OIC Dean Dr. Nina Rosario L. Rojas, and Loyola Schools Vice-President Dr. Maria Luz C. Vilches.

by Quirino Sugon Jr

Last 08 May 2018, 3:00 pm, 8 Physics faculty members received the Scholarly Work Publications Awards in categories A1 (PHP 50,000) and A2 (PHP 35,000) during the University Scholarly Work Awards 2018 at Room 413 Convergence Technology Center (CTC 413) of Ateneo de Manila University. The awardees are Dr. Joseph Raphael R. Bunao (1 + 0), Dr. Ma. Obiminda O. Cambaliza (8 + 0), Mr. Ivan C. Culaba (0 + 1),  Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero (3 + 1), Dr. Christian Lorenz S. Mahinay (0 + 1), Dr. Michael R. Mananghaya (3 + 0), Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma (2 + 0), and Dr. James Bernard B. Simpas (1 + 0) (Table 1).  Their research papers may be grouped according to 5 different fields: Theoretical Physics (1 + 0), Atmospherics (10 + 0), Photonics (3 + 1), Vacuum Coating and Plasma (0 + 1), and Materials Science (3 + 0) (Table 2).

  • Category A1 (50,000 PHP). Peer-reviewed research article, or literary/creative work (short story, creative non-fiction or essay, play, or poetry, including translations of these) published in a journal and indexed in the Thomson Reuters (ISI) and in the Scopus database. Peer-reviewed books, including literary/creative single-author novel or anthology (of short stories, creative non-fiction or essays, plays, or poetry, including translations of these), published by a reputable international publisher and indexed in the Thomson Reuters (lSI).
  • Category A2 (35,000 PHP). Peer-reviewed books, literary/creative single-author novel or anthology (of short stories, creative non-fiction or essays, plays, or poetry, including translations of these), published by a reputable national publisher. In cases where the book is subsequently included in the lSI and Scopus Indices, an additional cash award of P15,OOO will be given to the author/authors following guideline C.1.d on eligibility. • Per article included in peer-reviewed conference proceedings (for oral presentations only).

Overall, for Publication Category A1, the Physics Department published 17 papers from 8 faculty members out of 89 distinct authors, which gives a faculty per paper ratio of 0.47 and an author per paper ratio of 5.24. On the other hand, for Publication Category A2, the department published 2 papers from 3 faculty members out of 5 distinct authors, which gives a faculty per paper ratio of 1.50 and an authors per paper ratio of 2.50. (Table 3)


Faculty Category A1 Category A2
Bunao 1 0
Cambaliza 8 0
Culaba 0 1
Guerrero 3 1
Mahinay 0 1
Mananghaya 3 0
Narisma 2 0
Simpas 1 0

Table 1. Number of papers published per publication category for each Physics faculty

Research Area Category A1 Category A2
Theoretical Physics 1 0
Atmospheric Science 10 0
Photonics 3 1
Vacuum Coating & Plasma 0 1
Materials Science 3 0

Table 2. Number of papers published per publication category for each Physics research area

Category Papers Faculty Authors Faculty per Paper Authors per Paper
A1 17 8 89 0.47 5.24
A2 2 3 15 1.50 2.50

Table 3. Number of papers published, number of all publishing faculty, number of authors for all papers, number of faculty members per paper, and number of authors per paper for each publication category


1. Dr. Joseph Raphael R. Bunao

  • Bunao, J.R. (2017). Spacetime quanta?: the discrete spectrum of a quantum spacetime four-volume operator in unimodular loop quantum cosmology. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 34, 035003. [Category: A1]

2. Dr. Maria Obiminda R. Cambaliza

  • Richardson, S.J., Miles, N.L., Davis, K.J., Lauvaux, T., Martins, D.K., Turnbull, J.C., McKain, K., Sweeney, C., Cambaliza, M.O.L. (2017/10). Tower measurement network of in-situ CO2, CH4, and CO in support of the Indianapolis FLUX (INFLUX) Experiment. Elementa Science of the Anthropocene, 5: 59. [Category: A1]
  • Salmon, O.E., Shepson, P.B., Ren, X., Marquardt Collow, A.B., Miller, M.A., Carlton, A.G., Cambaliza, M.O.L., Heimburger, A., Morgan, K.L., Fuentes, J.D., Stirm, B.H., Grundman, R., II, Dickerson, R.R. (2017/09). Urban emissions of water vapor in winter. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 122(17), 9467-9484. [Category: A1]
  • Lavoie, T.N., Shepson, P.B., Cambaliza, M.O.L., Stirm, B.H., Conley, S., Mehrotra, S., Faloona, I.C., Lyon, D. (2017/07). Spatiotemporal Variability of Methane Emissions at Oil and Natural Gas Operations in the Eagle Ford Basin. Environmental Science and Technology, 51(14), 8001-8009. [Category: A1]
  • Cambaliza, MOL, Bogner, JE, Green, RB, Shepson, PB, Harvey, TA, Spokas, KA, Stirm, BH, Corcocan, M. (2017/07). Field measurements and modeling to resolve m2 to km2 CH4 emissions for a complex urban source: An Indiana landfill study. Elementa Science of the Anthropocene, 5: 36. [Category: A1]
  • Miles, N.L., Richardson, S.J., Lauvaux, T., Davis, K.J., Balashov, N.V., Deng, A., Turnbull, J.C., Sweeney, C., Gurney, K.R., Patarasuk, R., Razlivanov, I., Cambaliza, M.O.L., Shepson, P.B. (2017). Quantification of urban atmospheric boundary layer greenhouse gas dry mole fraction enhancements in the dormant season: Results from the Indianapolis Flux Experiment (INFLUX). Elementa, 5, Article number 27. [Category: A1]
  • Heimburger, A.M.F., Harvey, R.M., Shepson, P.B., Stirm, B.H., Gore, C., Turnbull, J.C., Cambaliza, M.O.L., Salmon, O.E., Kerlo, A.-E.M., Lavoie, T.N., Davis, K.J., Lauvaux, T., Karion, A., Sweeney, C., Brewer, W.A., Hardesty, R.M., Gurney, K.R. (2017/06). Assessing the optimized precision of the aircraft mass balance method for measurement of urban greenhouse gas emission rates through averaging. Elementa, 5, Article number 26. [Category: A1]
  • Davis, K.J., Deng, A., Lauvaux, T., Miles, N.L., Richardson, S.J.,Sarmiento, D.P., Gurney, K.R., Hardesty, R.M., Bonin, T.A., Brewer, W.A., Lamb, B.K., Shepson, P.B., Harvey, R.M., Cambaliza, M.O., Sweeney, C., Turnbull, J.C., Whetstone, J., Karion, A. (2017/05). The Indianapolis Flux Experiment (INFLUX): A test-bed for developing urban greenhouse gas emission measurements. Elementa, 5, Article number 21. [Category: A1]
  • Kecorius, S., Madueño, L., Vallar, E., Alas, H., Betito, G., Birmili, W., Cambaliza, M.O., Catipay, G., Gonzaga-Cayetano, M., Galvez, M.C., Lorenzo, G., Müller, T., Simpas, J.B., Tamayo, E.G., Wiedensohler, A. (2017). Aerosol particle mixing state, refractory particle number size distributions and emission factors in a polluted urban environment: Case study of Metro Manila, Philippines. Atmospheric Environment. 170, 169-183. [Category: A1]

3. Ivan B. Culaba

  • Penado, K.N.M., Mahinay, C.L.S., Culaba, I.B. (2018/01). Effect of atmospheric plasma treatment on seed germination of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Japanese Journal of Applied Physics, 57(1), Article number 01AG08. [Category: A2]

4. Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero

  • Asuncion, A.J., Guerrero, R. A., (2017/05). Generating superimposed Bessel beams with a volume holographic axicon. Applied Optics, 56(14), 4206-4212. Pada, C.T., Guerrero, R.A., (2017/05). Fluid-enhanced tunable diffraction with an elastomeric grating. Optical Engineering, 56(5), Article number 054101. [Category: A1]
  • Patacsil, C., Calupitan, J.P., Enriquez, E., Guerrero, R.A., (2017). Electrowetting Actuation of Polydisperse Nanofluid Droplets. Advances in Materials Science and Engineering, Volume 2017, Article number 2532173. [Category: A1]
  • Guerrero, R.A., Pada, C.T. (2017). Transmission mode of a deformable diffraction grating with a refracting fluid layer. Optics InfoBase Conference Papers Volume Part F50-Freeform 2017, 2p. [Category: A2]

5. Dr. Christian Lorenz S. Mahinay

  • Penado, Mahinay, and Culaba 2018. (See Ivan B. Culaba) [Category: A2]

6. Dr. Michael R. Mananghaya

  • Mananghaya, M.R. Santos, G.N., Yu, D.N., Stampfl, C. (2017/12). Hydrogen Adsorption on Nearly Zigzag-Edged Nanoribbons: A Density Functional Theory Study. Scientific Reports, 7(1), Article number 15727. [Category: A1]
  • Mananghaya, M.R. Santos, G.N., Yu, D.N., (2017/09). Solubility of amide functionalized single wall carbon nanotubes: A quantum mechanical study. Journal of Molecular Liquids, 242, 1208-1214. [Category: A1]
  • Mananghaya, M.R. Santos, G.N., Yu, D.N., (2017/08). Nitrogen substitution and vacancy mediated scandium metal adsorption on carbon nanotubes. Adsorption Journal of International Adsorption Society, 23(6), 789-797.

7. Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma

  • Cruz, F.T., Narisma, G.T., Dado, J.B., Singhruck, P., Tangang, F., Linarka, U.A., Wati, T., Juneng, L., Phan-Van, T., Ngo-Duc, T., Santisirisomboon, J., Gunawan, D., Aldrian, E. (2017/12). Sensitivity of temperature to physical parameterization schemes of RegCM4 over the CORDEX-Southeast Asia region. International Journal of Climatology, 37(15), 5139-5153.
  • Ngo-Duc, T., Tangang, F.T., Santisirisomboon, J., Cruz, F., Trinh-Tuan, L., Nguyen-Xuan, T., Phan-Van, T., Juneng, L., Narisma, G., Singhruck, P., Gunawan, D., Aldrian, E. (2017/03). Performance evaluation of RegCM4 in simulating extreme rainfall and temperature indices over the CORDEX-Southeast Asia region. International Journal of Climatology, 37(3), 1634-1647.

8. Dr. James Bernard B. Simpas

  • Kecorius et al 2017. (See Dr. Maria Obiminda O. Cambaliza)

Distinguished Physics students recognized in SOSE Awards 2018


From left to right: 1. Dr. Marilou Vilches, Vice President for the Loyola Schools, 2. Dr. Raphael Guerrero, Chair of the Department of Physics, 3. Aliena Mari P. Miranda, BS Physics with Materials Science and Engineering, Honorable Mention, Departmental Awardee, 4. Dr. Evangeline P. Bautista, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering

by Quirino Sugon Jr

The School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University held a Recognition Program for Distinguished Students last 22 May 2018, 4:00 PM, at the Convergent Technologies Center (CTC 413-414). The opening prayer was led by MS Atmospheric Science student Angela Monina T. Magnaye followed by the Opening Remarks by Loyola Schools Vice President Dr. Maria Luz C. Vilches.  The recognition ceremony proper has four categories, with one student chosen per category to give a response: (1) Renzo Ramirez (BSM AMF) for Student Athletes and Performers, (2) John Michael H. Bernil (BS Biology) for Competition Winners, (3) Neicy Marie F. Pilarca (BS MIS) for Student Leaders, and (4) Vanessa T. Siy Van (BS Health Science), Class Valedictorian and Summa Cum Laude, for Honor Students. Dr. Evangeline P. Bautista, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering, gave the Closing Remarks. Mr. Ronald Allan C. Cruz, Assistant Professor of the Department of Biology, served as emcee.

From the Department of Physics, 11 students received awards, consisting of 8 undergraduates and 2 graduate students. The Departmental Awardee is Ms. Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics MSE), Honorable Mention of Class 2018 and Finalist of BPI-DOST Science Awards 2018. She served in the Council of Organizations of Ateneo (COA) as Cluster Head for Analysis and Discourse and as Vice President for Organizational Strategies and Research (2017-2018). She also served the Ateneo League of Physicists (LeaPs) as its Vice President for Internal Affairs (2016-2017) and President (2015-2016).

Below are the Message of the Dean, the Program of Activities, and the List of Awardees.


We congratulate all the students in this list as we recognize how each of you truly personifies the spirit of magis. The school of Science and Engineering is proud of how you have excelled in academics, research, leadership, competition and sports. It is thus with confidence and excitement that we let you, a relatively small group of scientists, mathematicians and engineers, loose in a country which is only beginning to truly appreciate the value of science and engineering. We trust that you will grow to be successful scientists and engineers and at the same time stay true to being what Ateneo molded you to be—men and women for others.

Evangeline P. Bautista, PhD
Dean, School of Science and Engineering


  • National Anthem
  • Opening Prayer: Angela Monina T. Magnaye, MS Atmospheric Science
  • Opening Remarks: Maria Luz C. Vilches, PhD, Vice-President for the Loyola Schools
  • Recognition of Student Athletes and Performers. Response: Renzo Ramirez, BS/M Applied Mathematics with Specialization in Mathematical Finance; Captain, Blue Babble Battallion
  • Recognition of Competition Winners. Response: John Michael H. Bernil, BS Biology, Young Entrepreneurs Society Philippines, 3rd Startup Summit, Finalist, 2018
  • Recognition of Student Leaders. Response: Neicy Marie F. Pilarca, BS Management Information Systems; SOSE Representative, Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aara ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila
  • Recognition of Honor Students. Response: Vanessa T. Siy Van, BS Health Science, Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude
  • Closing Remarks: Evangeline P. Bautista, PhD, Dean, School of Science and Engineering
  • Photo Opportunities
  • Emcee: Ronald Allan L. Cruz, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology


A. Student Athletes

B. Competition Winners

C. Student Leaders

Council of Organizations of Ateneo (COA)

  • Hakeem Jimenez (BS Physics): Science and Technology Cluster, Ex Team Project Head (2016-2017),
  • Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering): Analysis and Discourse Cluster, Cluster Head Vice President for Organization Strategies and Research (2017-2018)

Youth for Christ-Ateneo (YFC-A)

  • Kerwin G. Caballas (BS Physics): Associate Vice President for Evangelization (2015-2016), Vice President for Creatives (2016-2017)
  • Ralph Locsin (BS Physics): Associate Vice President for Special Projects (2016-2017)

Ateneo Blue Repertory (blueREP)

  • Keith Nealson M. Penado (BS Physics): Actor

Ateneo League of Physicists (Ateneo LeaPs)

  • Tarjata Angelika R. Conde (BS Physics): President (2016-2017)
  • Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering): Vice President for Internal Affairs (2016-2017), President (2015-2016)
  • Kim Nicole V. Pena (BS Physics): Vice President for Communications and Media (2017-2018)
  • Keith Nealson M. Penado (BS Physics): Vice President for Marketing (2016-2017)
  • Nymark Kho (BS Physics): Vice President for Marketing (2014-2015)

Ateneo Toushin

  • Ramon Rafael D. Tonato (BS Physics): Vice President for Creatives

D. Honor Students

Honorable Mention

  • Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering)

E. Scholars

Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program

  • Darwin D. Perez (MS Atmospheric Science)

F. Departmental Recognition

Department of Physics

  • Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering)

Student awardees and faculty members of the Department of Physics of the School of Science and Engineering during the SOSE Awards 2018. Check out our other photos in our Facebook page.


Simulating heavy rainfall and streamflow in the Talomo watershed: a talk by BPI-DOST Science Awardee Catherine Lagare of AdDU

Image credit: Mouth of the Davao River in Talomo district by By Wolfgang Hägele – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

by Dr. Francia Avila

You are warmly invited to attend a talk on 7 June 2018, Thursday, 10:00am-11:30 a.m. at the Manila Observatory’s Heyden Hall. Ma. Catherine Lagare, an Environmental Science student from Ateneo de Davao University who qualified for this year’s BPI-DOST Science Awards, will be presenting her research, “Evaluation of WRF and WRF-Hydro Models in Simulating Heavy Rainfall and Streamflow in the Talomo Watershed: A Baseline Study for the Development of a Hydro-Meteorological Flood Forecasting System for Davao City.” Ms. Lagare is mentored by Dr. Rochelle Coronel of Ateneo de Davao University and Manila Observatory.


Flooding in Davao City due to strong streamflow is mainly induced by heavy or long rainfall events brought by monsoons, large convective systems, typhoons, and thunderstorms, which cause strong streamflow along the city’s river systems. Flooding is considered as a critical hazard that often results in the loss of life and damage to property. The increasing occurrence of river flooding in Davao City brings up the need for a hydro-meteorological forecasting system that integrates the relationship of atmospheric phenomena and the streamflow within the Davao City’s watershed area. This study aims to evaluate the performance of the Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF), and the WRF-Hydrological (WRF-Hydro) models in simulating heavy rainfall and streamflow events in Davao City, respectively. The models were configured to simulate the observed intense precipitation and streamflow event in the Talomo River in 01 August 2015. A set of numerical experiments and sensitivity tests with model validation were performed to determine the optimal model setup for Davao City rainfall. The numerical run with the highest horizontal resolution and both WRF 1 (with WSM6 as microphysics scheme; New Tiedtke as cumulus scheme; RRTMG as long and short wave radiations schemes; Yonsei University as PBL scheme; Noah LSM as land surface scheme) and WRF 4 (with Goddard as microphysics scheme; Grell 3D Ensemble as cumulus scheme; RRTM as long wave radiation scheme; Dudhia as short wave radiation schemes; Yonsei University as PBL scheme; Noah LSM as land surface scheme) of WRF outperforms other test simulations. Output from WRF 1 and WRF 4 were then utilized as forcing to the hydrological model to simulate streamflow and forecast possible flood events within the city. Results from WRF-Hydro simulations show the capability of the model to recreate the observed hourly pattern of strong streamflow in the Talomo River during the first 24 hours of the simulations but had difficulty in modeling the forecasts (after 24 hours). Further tuning of the meteorological and hydrological models is needed to improve the accuracy of the output. Nevertheless, this study introduces numerical tools and baseline results to be used in developing a hydro-meteorological flood forecasting system among the major rivers of Davao City. An initial algorithm, the NWP-based Ready Assessment Flood Tool (N-RAFT), was developed to automate flood forecasting over Davao City.

Nanomaterials and Spectroscopy Seminar by Dr. Valter Sergo and Dr. Vanni Lughi of University of Trieste

Dr. Valter Sergo (left) and Dr. Vanni Lughi (right) of University of Trieste

by Marienette Morales Vega, Ph. D.

The Department of Physics of the School of Science and Engineering would like to invite you to a seminar on Nanomaterials and Spectroscopy to be held on 04 June 2018, 10:30 a.m. at Faura Hall Room 106. The seminar consists of two talks:

  • “Nanoparticles and nanostructured materials for energy applications” by Vanni Lughi, Assistant professor of Materials, University of Trieste
  • “Raman spectroscopy and surface-enhaced Raman spectroscopy as biomedical tools: Fundamentals and applications” by Valter Sergo, Full Professor of Materials Science and Chemistry at the University of Trieste

Below are the abstracts of the talks and the profiles of the speakers.

I. Nanoparticles and nanostructured materials for energy applications

Abstract. Nanoparticles can be thought as tailorable building blocks for fabricating new materials with on-demand, tunable properties–for example by assembling them in a controlled way. The final properties of the material will depend on the mesoscale architecture of the assembly as well as on the characteristics of the nanoparticles. I will review existing approaches and some of our laboratory’s efforts for designing and realizing engineered nanoparticle architectures (“engineering nanoparticles”), as well as for utilizing them to fabricate new materials for applications in photovoltaics and biomedical-related fields (“engineering ‘with’ nanoparticles”).

About the Speaker.  Vanni Lughi is an assistant professor of materials at the University of Trieste, and holds the national academic qualification (“abilitazione”) as associate professor. He received PhD and MS degrees in Materials from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he worked on functional thin films and coatings. His current research and teaching activity at the nanoMaterials & Energy Laboratory (naME Lab) focuses on nanostructured materials for energy-related applications, such as for photovoltaic cells. Recently, he started researching more systemic and interdisciplinary aspects of photovoltaic systems and renewable energy sources. Over the past few years he has led or participated in a number of energy-related projects funded by public institutions as well as private companies.

II. Raman spectroscopy and surface-enhaced Raman spectroscopy as biomedical tools: Fundamentals and applications

Abstract. In recent years the use of Raman spectroscopy and Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for biomedical applications has been growing considerably. Intrinsically, the Raman effect is label-free and, as such, it does not introduce unwanted guests in the system under analysis. In a label-free Raman SERS approach, analytes (drugs, biomarkers, etc.) are put in contact with nanostructured metallic surfaces, (typically Au or Ag nanoparticles with suitable optical properties) generating a complex spectrum very rich in information. This fact, coupled with the rapidity of measurements and the ease of sample preparation, have paved the way for a wide spread use of these techniques in materials science, life sciences, and in medicine. In this talk an introduction to the Raman and SERS effect will be presented; then the schematic of the equipment will be outlined and then some practical case histories will be discussed: (a) Localization of hemozoin inside single red blood cells infected with malaria (Plasmodium falciparum), (b) Aging of zirconium oxide leading to catastrophic failure of ceramic hip joint prostheses, (c) Raman Mapping of the cartilage tissues and calcified cardiac valves, (d) Nanotechnologies and Raman SERS applied to quantification of low-concentration chemotherapics, and (e) Nanotechnologies, Raman SERS, and statistical analysis for screening of prostate and breast cancer.

About the Speaker. Valter Sergo is a Full Professor of Materials Science and Chemistry at the University of Trieste (Italy). He has published over 100 scientific papers, mostly in materials science and Raman spectroscopy. He has been a research associate at the University of California at Santa Barbara, at the Kyoto Institute of Technology (Japan) and has been visiting professor at the Technical University of Dresden (Germany). In the last ten years his main research focus has been on the development of medical optical diagnostic tools based on Raman spectroscopy. Presently he is one of the five Working Group leaders of the official European COST action RAMAN4CLINICS, devoted to the introduction of Raman spectroscopy in clinical practice and the member officially representing Italy in the management committee of the same EU project.

BS Physics-MSE student Aliena Miranda of AdMU receives award at MSE Summit 2018 research fair in UP Diliman


Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics-Materials Science Engineering, 2nd from the left) during the awarding ceremonies at the Materials Science & Engineering Summit 2018 at University of the Philippines-Diliman

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Aliena Mari P. Miranda (5 BS Applied Physics with Materials Science Engineering) of Ateneo de Manila University was awarded Best in Oral Presentation (undergraduate cluster) at the Materials Science and Engineering Summit 2018 Research Fair held last 16-17 March 2018 at the Engineering Theater of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Miranda’s research was entitled, “Green synthesis of Fe2O3/graphene and MnO2/graphene nanocomposites for supercapacitor electrodes,” under the supervision of Dr. Erwin P. Enriquez of the Department of Chemistry of Ateneo de Manila University. Of the five participants in the Research Fair,  four are from Ateneo de Manila University. The two-day summit, with the theme “Sinagtala: A Focus on the Innovations of Philippine Materials,” has four events: Olympiad, ProdExpo, Career talks, and Research Fair.

Below is an interview with Aliena Mari P. Miranda by Ateneo Physics News:

1. How did you arrive at Ateneo de Manila University from high school?

I’m from Pasig City Science High School. I entered the Applied Physics/MSE program because I was interested in working on nanotechnology. Studying in a science high school helped cultivate my interest in the sciences, and luckily I was granted a scholarship to the Ateneo so I could pursue this interest.

2. What is the significance of your research?

With rampant pollution and limited resources, there is high interest in producing energy storage using environmentally-friendly methods and abundant materials. One device of interest is the supercapacitor, which, unlike the conventional dielectric capacitor, makes use of an electrolyte separated by a porous membrane. The electrodes have to be conductive, and have to have a high surface area to increase the energy it stores. Metal oxides such as iron oxide and manganese oxide have high specific capacitances but they suffer from low conductivity and low surface area. To address this, these metal oxides can be deposited in nanoparticle form onto graphene to increase their surface area and conductivity. The research shows that effective supercapacitor electrodes made of metal oxide-graphene nanocomposites can be created using green synthesis methods such as direct exfoliation and microwave-assisted hydrothermal synthesis, addressing the need to replace energy-intensive methods and toxic reagents. It also shows that iron oxide and manganese oxide increase the specific capacitance of graphene as the nanocomposites had higher specific capacitances compared to plain graphene.

3. Is this research a continuation of your BS Applied Physics thesis?

This research isn’t a continuation of my BS Applied Physics thesis, so the toughest part was getting used to the lab protocols for working in a chemistry laboratory. Working in a chemistry laboratory taught me to be more meticulous with my work especially since the reagents and tools we were using could be expensive.

I did my Applied Physics thesis under Dr. Christian Mahinay at the Vacuum Coating and Plasma laboratory where I worked on the characterization of DC-magnetron argon plasma using a Langmuir probe that I designed. I decided to start a different study for my MSE thesis because I was interested in Dr. Enriquez’s work on supercapacitors. Luckily, Mark Cabello, a previous graduate student, had been working on creating metal oxide graphene nanocomposites but they were designed for dye-sensitized solar cells, so Dr. Enriquez advised me to work from there to develop supercapacitor electrodes.

4. What motivated you to join the contest?

I was motivated to join the contest because my friends and I joined the quiz bee in the same summit two years ago. Our professor in an MSE class, Dr. Jose Mario A. Diaz, told us we’d get bonus points if we won the quiz bee. Unfortunately, we didn’t win then, so I kept my eye on the summit and decided my MSE thesis was good material for the research fair. A block mate, and an org mate joined the research fair as well so we cheered for each other during the oral presentations.

Students should be encouraged to talk about their work with others so that they can get feedback from people other than their peers and teachers in their school. We got to interact with students from different universities and learn about their work, and it helped build this sense of community knowing that science is alive and well all around the country, although it could be better if more support was given and more resources were shared. One of the professors commented that I could approach them to use their facilities since I was having difficulties with characterization. Events like this MSE Summit gives me hope that science can flourish as a field in the Philippines.

5. Were you able to make it to the BPI-DOST awards?

Yes, I am one of the two awardees from the Ateneo to the BPI-DOST Science Awards. They decided to cut the nominees from three last year down to just two this year so the competition was tougher. I thought I wouldn’t make it because one of the panelists commented he didn’t understand my methodology, but somehow it worked out in the end. The results have not been announced online but we were emailed letters last week. The other awardee is Kariz Bautista, a fourth year BS Chemistry/MSE student who worked on modified nanocellulose derived from hyacinths under Dr. Jose Mario Diaz. The awarding ceremony is on 5 June 2018.

6. What are your future plans in 5 years?

I’m currently waiting for the results of my application for the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship. My blockmate and I have passed the second screening, which was under the university we’re applying to, and now we’re waiting for the results of the third screening under the Japanese Government. In the meantime, I plan to finish my reading list and pick up a few online classes. If I don’t get into the scholarship, I plan on working in the construction industry.

7. Was your paper already published?

No, my paper has not been published yet. I haven’t had the time to make my work suitable for publication, and there’s still a lot to do.

8. Any parting words?

Getting started seems tough but it’s a crucial step. Don’t let your inhibitions get the best of you. I started studying physics not really knowing what I got myself into, but I braced myself for the ride. I can’t say I’ve always been passionate for physics, but sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and work through it.


Certificate of Recognition of Aliena Mari P. Miranda for winning the Best in Oral Presentation (Undergraduate Cluster) at the MSE Summit 2018 Research Fair in University of the Philippines-Diliman last 16-17 March 2018.