Decision support system using near cloud for disaster and risk management: an interview with Dane Ancheta (BS APS-ACS 2017)


“Design and development of decision support system using near cloud for disaster management and risk reduction” by E. D. Ancheta (right), J. A. Dela Cruz, and A. J. Domingo. Advisory committee: N. Libatique, PhD, G. Tangonan, PhD, D. Solpico, and D. Lagazo. Department of Electronics, Computer and Communications Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University.  Interlinks 13.0 was held last 5 May 2015, 1:00-5:00 p.m., at Convergent Technologies Center (CTC) Rm 413.

by Dane Ancheta and Quirino Sugon Jr

Dane Ancheta is a graduating student of BS Applied Physics and Applied Computer Systems (BS APS-ACS) of the Ateneo de Manila University and is one of the four last BS APS-ACS majors taking this course. After graduating High School from Ateneo de Zamboanga University in 2012, she went on to Ateneo de Manila University on a 100% financial aid scholarship, and a DOST merit scholarship. She worked at Manila Observatory (MO) for her physics thesis entitled “Temporal variability of localized rainfall events in metro manila over 2 years (2013-2014).” She also worked in Ateneo Innovations Center (AIC) for her Applied Computer Systems (ACS) thesis entitled “Design and development of decision support system using near cloud for disaster management and risk reduction.” Her co-workers are April Domingo (BS Computer Engineering) and Jane Dela Cruz (BS Electronics and Communications Engineering). They presented a poster of their work last 5 May 2017 at Interlinks 13.0, an annual research poster exhibition organized by the Ateneo Innovation Center for the School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University. The abstract of their poster reads as follows:

In disaster scenarios, the lack of wireless internet or weak cellular network signal poses a very real threat to crucial information gathering and sharing. Using Near Cloud to store, load and upload information, this project has designed and developed decision support nodes that is able to to gather and distribute intelligent information before, during, and after disasters. These nodes are cached in with key information and data needed for disasters, i.e. maps, message reports, and images. The nodes serve as the command and control in early warning and disaster management systems. Key capabilities featured in for the decision support node include: broadcast mode that is broadcasting message via RF, mapping and visualization, data mining, near cloud, and the medical decision support system. A decision support node architecture is then developed and proposed as the main command and control as mobile kiosks. This mobile kiosk architecture is developed with a number of Raspberry Pi 3‘s, each of which are connected to perform and handle one application in a grid pattern.

Below is an interview with Dane Ancheta by Ateneo Physics News:

1. Why did you choose physics?

I could not imagine myself not taking physics.  I chose physics in all colleges that I applied. I don’t want to live my life wondering, “What if I had taken physics?”  

I love science. When I was a little girl, I would watch National Geographic. I’m naturally inquisitive. My teachers were great and supportive, but it was generally my curiosity that drove me to take physics.

2. Can you tell us about your your physics thesis?

I worked at the Manila Observatory for my thesis entitled “Temporal variability of localized rainfall events in metro manila over 2 years (2013-2014)”. My thesis adviser is Dr. James Simpas and Ma’am Genie Lorenzo. The data comes from the, at the time, newly installed dense network of weather stations around Metro Manila. For my thesis, I used at around 24 stations that are at a 5 km radius apart each. Basically, what I did was characterize localized rain events such as thunderstorms and precipitation; bigger events such as monsoons and typhoons are not included. We found out that the most amount of rainfall is experienced in Tayuman, Manila, though Makati City and Quezon City also experience high amounts of rainfall. The probability of rainfall is highest in middle and western Metro Manila, while it is lowest in southeastern Metro Manila. The study characterizes for the first time the areas of likelihood, rainfall and temporal correlation for the localized rain events in Metro Manila. It does not, however, explain such behavior, so we are still looking for an explanation  This work will definitely be continued or taken over.

For this thesis, all data were being sent to Manila Observatory. It is hard work to make sure that the data we are preparing are usable. We don’t get the data “clean”, that is why we have to check if they are healthy or anomalous. The data come from the weather stations that are exposed to the elements. But I did not have to go out as data from these stations were directly received by MO. I used QGIS and a little Python. I had learned many things working on this project.  This August 2017, we shall go to Singapore for the Asia Oceania Geoscience Society ( AOGS) conference. I shall present a poster of my physics thesis there. A good number from the research team is going because we have both the AQD-ITD (Air Quality DynamicsInstrumentation and Technology Development under Dr. Obiminda Cambaliza and Dr. James Simpas) and RCS (Regional Climate Systems under Dr. Narisma) researchers presenting.

3. Can you tell us about our Applied Computer Systems thesis?

In our 5th year, we start working on our ACS thesis under a thesis group with the ECCE (Electronics, Computer, and Communications Engineering) Department. I got involved in Ateneo Innovation Center where I became part of a big research team. On-going projects were laid out and discussed for us. The bigger research team is currently working on Multi-platform ICT Decision Support System UAVs , Vehicle Hubs, Ubiquitous Computing for Disaster Risk Reduction. We settled on the mission control end of the system. There are three of us in the thesis group- April Domingo is from CoE (Computer Engineering) and Jane Dela Cruz is from ECE (Electronics and Communications Engineering). Basically what we do is we receive all information from the responders and UAVs, and develop a system for this flow of information.

In the event of a disaster scenario, communication lines may be cut off due to damages to infrastructure, making information sharing difficult. Information that may be crucial for damage assessment and rescue operation would be lost or would not be transmitted effectively. In the research, we used the near cloud to store, load and upload information, this project has designed and developed decision support nodes that is able to gather and distribute intelligent information before, during, and after disasters.

We built upon the thesis of those who worked on near cloud before us. The previous team used Ionics plug computer, however, since this product was discontinued, we decided to make our own near cloud using Raspberry Pi 3 and terabyte hard drives. Our architecture is as follows: there is a raspberry pi node which serves as a serve/gateway. All other Raspberry Pi units with their corresponding applications are connected to this node. The architecture itself is an enabler: it enables all the applications to run in the same network.

The system also has near cloud capabilities. It acts as a cloud storage, but for a local network. This is done by configuring a Raspberry Pi for hotspot capabilities, while connecting the terabyte hard drive storage to it. Therefore, anyone can connect to the Raspberry Pi network and access all the files stored in the hard drive. Devices such as phones and laptops can access, download or upload (with permissions) files into the hard drive through this network as long as they are connected to the hotspot. The system also has drop box capabilities. This technology will be useful in evacuation centers. Given that communication lines could be cut off and there might not be enough power, it is hard to get information through. But the Raspberry Pi is low maintenance and low power, but powerful enough to make information available for access via the preloaded data in the hard drive. We tried to test this system by connecting about 10 devices, and it can work well in accessing files and streaming videos.

Another capability is our war room display with multiple screens where the interface is shown. This is how it works: responders and UAVs are on the ground send data to the mission control. The communication is done by radio frequency module at 900 MHz, which reach about 5km point to point without walls. If the messages from a responder is being sent, the message will be relayed to the different phones until it reaches mission control. For the responders sending a message to the mission control, the message and location of the responder will show up in the Google Maps API, so it will be easier to visualize where the responders are. This is how information will be received and instructions will be sent out from the mission control.

The most difficult part of the thesis are the times we have to learn the language then and there. We try to solve problems not encountered in class. We used a lot of different languages for different functions, such as C#, HTML, PHP and mySQL. We used Raspbian for the Raspberry pi the Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) core, Visual Studio for the interface, PHP for the chatroom, and Google API for the mapping. We have to learn using internet and the kindness of people.

4. Were you under a scholarship?

I am a Financial Aid scholar. Our kind benefactor is a BS APS-CE (Applied Physics / Computer Engineering) graduate and he gives scholarships to students who are pursuing the same course. I am lucky to have a benefactor like that who is passionate about supporting students interested in physics.

I am also a DOST scholar ever since sophomore year. So that makes three or four years. My failure in one class did not impact my scholarship that bad. It had to be put on hold for a time until I passed, but I did eventually get it back. The failure in that class is just a bump. I did study and did well in my other classes, so I did not feel like I was in danger. My QPI was 2.89 even with the failed class. I survived.

5. What are your plans for the future?

I am not sure yet if I want to take engineering or masters. I am thinking of going to China to do my masters, but I still have to consider the requirements, e.g. fixing papers and submissions. I am very nervous, since it is really an open field.  There is no one direct path to go to. There is so much freedom to choose from. So I have not decided yet on what to do.

6. Any parting words to our Physics majors?

The most difficult part of being a BS Physics/Computer Engineering major is the rigor that comes into the work. It is both a difficulty and a blessing. Not everybody undergoes that kind of rigor that is required of physics. We had to learn a lot: even failure is a learning process. I learned to shift focus from just getting good grades to learning something and growing in the course. I did fail one class: Electromagnetics. I try to look on the bright side and say it was not that bad because it pushed me to do better in my studies.

Physics and Computer systems go very well together. As a physicist, it is really important to work with computers and use them for your advantage. It was sad that the course had to be discontinued. We do learn to program using C++ in PS 130 Computational Physics; however I think it is not enough programming for physics. Even if the course does create excellent and competent students, after college they get into web develop or work in IT related fields. Now, there’s no ACS. It is a shame. Programming is so useful.  In today’s age, if you can program, you can hold the world on a string.

Stay curious. Be inquisitive. Never stop asking questions.



Ateneo Physics alumnus Jude Salinas is now a PhD student in Earth Systems Science at National Central University, Taiwan

Jude Salinas, PhD Student, Taiwan International Graduate Program - Earth Systems Science Program, Academia Sinica, National Central University, Taiwan

After finishing his BS Applied Physics degree at Ateneo de Manila University in 2012 , Cornelius Csar Jude H. Salinas went on to take his PhD studies at the Taiwan International Graduate Program-Academia Sinica of the National Central University, Taiwan.  Last December 2016, his paper entitled, “Impacts of SABER CO2-based eddy diffusion coefficients in the lower thermosphere on the ionosphere/thermosphere,” was published at the Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics. SABER stands for Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument is one of four instruments on NASA’s Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite. To scan the atmosphere, SABER uses a 10-channel broadband limb-scanning infrared radiometer with spectral range of 1.27 µm to 17 µm. Different gases–O3, CO2, H2O, [O], [H], NO, OH, O2, and CO2–have different absorption properties at different electromagnetic wavelengths. This allows the bulk properties of these gases to be measured, such as kinetic temperature, pressure, geopotential height, volume mixing, volume emission rates, and cooling and heating rates–all across different atmospheric heights.

The atmosphere is the layer of the gas molecules surrounding a planet–or even a star like the sun. For the earth, the dominant atmospheric gases are Nitrogen (N2) at 78%, Oxygen (O2) at 21%, and Argon at 0.9%. Different gases have different masses, and the way these gases mix result to different layers of the atmosphere: troposphere (6-20 km), stratosphere (20-50 km), Mesosphere (50-85 km), thermosphere (85-590 km), and exosphere (590-10,000 km). At the thermosphere, the molecules become very hot due to absorption of ultraviolet rays from the sun, with temperatures reaching 2,500 deg Celsius, though it would still feel cold below O deg Celsius since the gases are sparse. Some of these hot molecules gets ionized, i.e. they shed off electrons, transforming the molecules into positive ions. These electrons and ions define the ionosphere. The density of the ionosphere may be determined by the frequency of radio waves that they reflect, which are usually from 2 to 25 MHz. The ionosphere is essentially a plasma, which is affected by the earth’s magnetic field and by the internal electric fields generated by the separation of positive and negative charges. Thus, the motion of the ionosphere is coupled with that of the thermosphere–and even with the lower parts of the atmosphere through wave motion, which makes the problem difficult to observe and model, except through satellite measurements and computational methods, such as those used in Jude Salinas’ work.

Below is an interview with Jude Salinas by Ateneo Physics News.


Jude Salinas with a snowman during an extremely rare event of snow in Taipei in 2016. The last time that it snowed in Taipei was almost 50 years ago.

1. What made you choose to take BS physics in AdMU? 

I chose to take BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems in Ateneo because my particular fascination for airplanes inspired me to understand the physics behind our atmosphere especially turbulence. It definitely helped that I enjoyed my physics class during my highschool, PAREF Westbridge School for Boys in Iloilo City.

2. How were you able to enter the doctoral program at Academia Sinica? Was it through connections or did you pass some tests?

The application procedures didn’t require any tests but it did require recommendation letters and proof of research skills. In my case, I believe showing that I had at least 5 conference presentations (4 international) helped. Indeed, the skills that I learned from my undergraduate research helped me a lot in both course-work and research.

3. What research you currently working on? 

My PhD research specialty is under the fields of atmospheric and space physics. I do research on the coupling of our lower atmosphere (less than 15 km) and our upper atmosphere (greater than 110 km) via the interaction of numerous atmospheric waves (e.g. Rossby/planetary-scale waves, gravity waves, etc.) with the background atmosphere occurring in our middle atmosphere (15 to 110 km). Our middle atmosphere is not in a state of radiative equilibrium everywhere and at all times. For example, in the mesopause (at roughly 90 km), the summer hemisphere is much colder than the winter hemisphere. In fact, the summer mesopause is the coldest point in our atmosphere. The interaction of atmospheric waves with our background atmosphere drives this. This is actually pushed further in that these waves which originated in the neutral atmosphere also affect our ionosphere, a region of our atmosphere that is dominated by charged plasma. Understanding the physics behind the coupling of our atmospheric regions is important in satellite operations, communications and space exploration. My research utilizes physical models to understand and consequently simulate observational data from satellites.

My current research is specifically about understanding the physics and chemistry behind the coupling of our lower atmosphere and our upper atmosphere by looking and explaining the variabilities of CO2 in the middle atmosphere. My JGR Space Physics paper lays the foundation for the rest of my PhD work. It aimed to calculate eddy diffusion coefficient profiles in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere region (80 – 110 km) using satellite observations of CO2 and a one-dimensional photochemical and transport model. Eddy diffusion coefficients are a model parameterization for sub-grid scale motions like mixing due to breaking gravity waves. Calculating this is difficult because it is like calculating the diffusion that occurs when a wave crashes on a sea-shore or the diffusion due to turbulence. Only a few ground-stations have done this but of course, ground-stations don’t give a global coverage which is important. So far, no satellite-derived temperature nor wind dataset can be used to calculate this. Chemical species profiles and a one-dimensional model can also be used to calculate this but the chemistry of the utilized tracer must be well-known or it should be chemically inert. Our work used a CO2 as tracer because it is chemically inert in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere region. We utilized recently retrieved CO2 profiles from the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite’s Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument. Our work provides the longest dataset on satellite-based eddy diffusion coefficient profiles derived from CO2. We hope to start an effort to calculate these coefficients using other satellite-derived chemical species. After calculating these profiles, we saw that they were very similar to eddy diffusion coefficients calculated by certain models that explicitly parameterizes breaking gravity waves with eddy diffusion coefficients. This led us to think that we may have just indirectly derived eddy diffusion coefficients that could parameterize breaking gravity waves. We are still doing more work to more robustly show this. Noting this though, we set these coefficients as a lower boundary condition in our electrodynamics general circulation model. This checked a recent suggestion that breaking gravity waves was the missing forcing that could completely drive the seasonal variations in thermospheric neutral density and ionospheric electron density. Similar to the aforementioned cold summer mesopause, the ionosphere and thermosphere is also not solely controlled by solar activity (Chapman mechanism) and in this case, geomagnetic activity. There are a lot of phenomena in our upper atmosphere that is found to require additional forcings from lower and middle atmospheric waves. Our work finally showed that our derived eddy diffusion coefficients cannot simulate the seasonal variations in the ionosphere and thermosphere. The first paper to cite our work further supported our suggestions by presenting a different dynamical mechanism centered on first-principles that they showed simulated the seasonal variations in the ionosphere and thermosphere.

4. How is your work in Academia Sinica related to your work at Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics in Ateneo de Manila University?

My current work is related to my undergraduate work at MO and Ateneo in that I utilized satellite data and did a lot of time-series analysis in both works. Interestingly though, I found out that the rainfall data from TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission of NASA) that I used for my undergraduate work was an instrumental observational evidence to the theory that ionospheric plasma bubbles are caused by convective activity in the troposphere via the vertical propagation of convectively-driven atmospheric waves through the middle atmosphere.

5. What is your normal day or week like? Are you a member of a Laboratory? Do you work alone or with a group?

I am a member of a laboratory under the Graduate Institute of Space Science in National Central University and also a laboratory under the Research Center for Environmental Change in Academia Sinica but we all do our research alone. It is our program’s policy that we should belong to two labs. In a normal week, I have one day for our lab meeting. The rest of the week is spent in the lab. On a normal day, I go to the lab and do the most important work from 9 am till 6 pm. It really depends, sometimes this could mean spending an entire day doing observational data analysis or modeling calculations or just reading and writing.

6. Can you describe the physical models and data sets that you use? How much computational power do you need for your models or to analyze your data? What is the computational infrastructure that allows you do such kind of research?

For my work, the data sets that I mostly use are satellite observations. I work with satellite-observations on temperature, CO2, electron density and neutral density. I also work with reanalysis datasets. Reanalysis datasets are datasets formed via complicated interpolation of numerous observations from ground-based stations to satellites. However, for my work, my methodology dictates I prioritize satellite data.

The physical models that I use include one-dimensional models and three-dimensional models. For the one-dimensional model, it is a photochemical and transport model that solves the continuity equation. The model includes the chemistry of the major non-nitrogen chemical species in the altitude range 0 – 130 km.

For the three-dimensional models, they are electrodynamics general circulation models developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US that solve the fully coupled, nonlinear, hydrodynamic, thermodynamic and continuity equations of neutral gas with the energy, momentum and continuity equations of ions in the thermosphere and ionosphere (from ~97 km to ~500 km). The external forcings accounted for are solar irradiance; geomagnetic energy; ionospheric convection; a specified upward and downward plasma flux at the upper boundary representing the interaction of the system with the plasmasphere; and perturbations at the lower boundary of the model by waves representing the interaction between the ionosphere-thermosphere region and the lower atmosphere.

The datasets that I have are all stored on our lab’s servers because of their massive sizes. The models that I use are also all ran on these servers. While my data-processing work are all done in either MATLAB or IDL, the models are all coded in FORTRAN for efficiency. An entire year’s worth of model run requires two days to finish. I also do decade-long model runs that require roughly a month to finish. In order to do this kind of research, one needs a powerful Linux cluster-system.

7. What are your five-year plans? Are you coming back to the country, pursue postdoctorate, or work in the industry?

My five-year plans include, of course, finishing my PhD and then, I’ll look for opportunities that can allow me to practice my training on atmospheric and space physics.

8. Any parting words for our Physics majors?

Whether you guys immediately opt to work or go to graduate school, understand that you guys will be starting your lives when you graduate. This is particularly difficult to understand for those considering graduate school. Some make the terrible mistake of thinking that graduate school postpones the reality that they are already starting their lives. This hinders them from always keeping in mind the more important things in life like being professional, being disciplined, being humble and thoroughly figuring out what they want in their lives. They’ve become blinded by the pleasure of finding things out (c.f. Richard Feynman). Doing advanced physics is cool but don’t ever lose sight that you have to juggle this with the advanced responsibilities of life. I’ve met numerous top-gun scientists and I’ve seen how their successes were founded not on how amazing they did their calculations and experiments but on how happily they lived their lives with their families. I credit my undergraduate adviser, Dr. Nofel Lagrosas, for constantly reminding me of these things when I was still in Ateneo.


Left: Jude Salinas with his lab-mates and boss (left-most) on their way to an observatory in Taiwan’s Mt. Lulin. They were are setting up a telescope system for observing airglow emissions in the upper atmosphere. Right: Jude Salinas with his poster that won second place under the Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere division of the Student Poster Competition during the Coupling, Energetics, Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Ateneo Physics faculty Dr. Joel Maquiling and his student Jansen Keith Domoguen to be awarded by American Physical Society Forum on International Physics


Dr. Joel Maquiling and Jansen Keith L. Domoguen*, IV BS Applied Physics with Materials Science Engineering of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University

Congratulations to Mr. Jansen Keith L. Domoguen, IV BS Applied Physics with Materials Science Engineering, Department of Physics, School of Science and Engineering, for being awarded the 2015 Distinguished Student Award by the American Physical Society Forum on International Physics (APS-FIP DS3 Award).

Mr. Domoguen is one of the twelve (12) international students of physics being recognized with the APS-FIP DS3 Award. He will accept the award during the Annual APS Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA on 16-19 April 2016. A travel grant of 2500 USD is granted to Mr. Domoguen to attend the Awarding Ceremonies.

He will also present his research work at the APS April Meeting where more than 1,000 papers will be presented by eminent scientists in the field of physics, including astrophysics, nuclear physics, particles and fields physics, the physics of beams, and computational physics.

His adviser, Dr. Joel T. Maquiling, himself a 2015 APS-FIP Faculty Awardee, will present their geophysics research work on the “Suppression of Turbulence using Electrified Granular Matter” and our local physics education endeavors during the APS Meeting and during the Forum on International Physics in the aforementioned venue.

Congratulations to Jansen and Joel! We are proud of you!

Ateneo Physics student Julie Mae Dado chosen as DOST-SEI ICON for 2013

Julie Dado receiving the DOST-SEI Icon Award for 2013

Julie Dado receiving the DOST-SEI Icon Award for 2013

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Julie Mae Dado, a DOST ASTHRDP Scholar who has finished MS in Atmospheric Science in Ateneo de Manila University, was awarded the DOST-SEI ICONS Award during the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) last 23-27 July 2013 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex. According to Dr. Gemma Narisma, Julie Dado’s research adviser, the ICONS award is given to “the scholar/graduates of SEI that exemplify excellence in the aspects of poverty alleviation, countryside development, climate change, and industry competitiveness—areas deemed as the focus of the current administration.” Julie was chosen by SEI “for being a key contributor in the country’s climate resiliency efforts.” In the DOST-SEI booth at SMX, the DOST ICONS had their photos posted with a short write-up on their respective impacts on the said development areas. Julie Dado shared her experiences with high school students last July 26, 2013 at the SMX Convention Center Meeting Room, in order to motivate them to choose science courses in college and become part of the science community. Below is an interview with Julie Mae Dado by the Ateneo Physics News.

1. Can you tell me more about your award?

It is called DOST-SEI ICONS Award because it is an award given to DOST scholar graduates. I was a DOST scholar graduate for my Master’s degree in Atmospheric Science in Ateneo. DOST wants to feature successful scholar graduates such as myself in the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) for this year. The objective of the award is to inspire other students, in particular DOST scholars, to pursue careers in science. The goal is not just for them to obtain a science degree, but to entice these students to pursue a scientific career. The current administration’s priorities include, among others, climate change. That is why DOST wanted to feature Atmospheric Science graduates such as myself because of the work I have done involving climate resiliency efforts which was made possible because of the Manila Observatory’s Regional Climate Systems (RCS) program.

There were six of us. One is the former Dean of the College of Engineering of UP Diliman, Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevarra. For Geology, it is Dr. Carlos Primo C. David of the National Institute of Geological Sciences of UP Diliman. There is one for chemistry – Mr. Admer Rey Dablio. For stem cell research and molecular medicine it is Dr. Pierre Dimamay. Then there’s another one for Computer Science and Information Technology – Dr. Delfin Sabido. They are all former DOST scholars.

This is the first time DOST gave an award like this. Every year, DOST-SEI sets up a booth in the Science and Technology Week. This year, they wanted to feature the scholar graduates.

Julie Dado giving a talk at SMX Mall of Asia

Julie Dado giving a talk to science high school students at SMX Mall of Asia

2. What are you currently working on?

My field is climate studies and I focus on climate modelling in particular. I run climate models to study the climate variability of a particular area. I also run projections for various analyses, such as for crop models. We also analyze historical data to see climate trends, and to see whether there have been changes. I am just a part of a group of climate modelers. I don’t do all the work; we are a team. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge the Regional Climate Systems group and especially, Dr. Gemma Narisma, the climate research head and associate director of the Manila Observatory. I am honoured to work with a Climate Studies expert like her.

I also study land-atmosphere interactions. In particular, my graduate thesis focused on urbanization and its effects on the Southwest monsoon rainfall. We found that urbanization enhances rainfall during the Southwest monsoon.

3. What are the software or hardware requirements for climate modelling?

Regional climate models can actually be run using any computer, but raw power is of course an advantage. Long term phenomena at fine resolutions are now possible because of advances in computing hardware. In the Regional Climate Systems at the Manila Observatory, we run models using quadcore computers which are well-suited for parallel computing. Climate models also require a lot of hard disk space, i.e. we can use up an 8 terabytes of space in just 2 months of work.

4. Do you have a computer cluster?

At present, we don’t have a cluster, but we plan on building one. Although we have a 24-core computing machine.

5. What software do you use?

As of the moment, the Regional Climate Systems has the capacity to run three models: REGCM4, WRF, and MM5. I myself use RegCM4.

6. Are you using Windows or Linux?

Almost all of our models run using the Linux platform. In Linux, you can easily alter and tinker your OS. Climate models are written in Fortran, so it also helps if you have a background in Fortran if you wish to work on climate modeling studies. It is also helpful to have knowledge in C, C++, or Python, for analyzing model outputs.

Julie Dado at the DOST-SEI booth in SMX Mall of Asia

Julie Dado at the DOST-SEI booth in SMX Mall of Asia

7. Can you describe your career path at Manila Observatory?

I have been with Manila Observatory since July 2009 right after I finished college. I took up BS Applied Physics in UP Diliman and finished in 2009. My research before was on image processing with Dr. Maricor Soriano of the Instrumentation Physics Laboratory in the National Institute of Physics (NIP), UP Diliman. After graduation, I thought hard about pursuing a Master’s degree in physics. I was also open to pursue other research areas. There was an opening in Manila Observatory which involved Climate Modeling. I worked initially as a climate modeler, but given that I had no previous background in climate modeling, I found that the next logical step is to pursue a degree in atmospheric studies.

8. What are your future plans?

My short-term goal is to publish my work on urbanization and rainfall. I’m also exploring other opportunities for further studies.

9. Do you have any parting words?

At present, there is only one scientist for every 10,000 Filipinos. Scientists are the ones who push the envelope of knowledge further. If we want a better future as one people, it is therefore imperative that we increase that number.

For college students majoring in sciences and also those who are planning to take it up, they should not limit themselves to their specific fields. They should see their course only as a stepping stone. The skills that they can learn in during undergrad are important. Don’t be easily discouraged. Eventually they will find their niche. They should always ask questions with a mind of eventually finding the answers. Never stop.

Ateneo Physics faculty Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero is NAST Outstanding Young Scientist and TWAS Prize awardee for 2013

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero and Dr. Liane Pena Alampay

NAST Outstanding Young Scientist Awardees of Ateneo de Manila University: Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero of Physics and Dr. Liane Peña Alampay of Psychology. Dr. Raphael Guerrero also received the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Prize for Young Scientist in the Philippines.

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Ateneo Physics faculty Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero received two awards from the National Academy of Sciences (NAST) Philippines during its 35th Annual Scientific Meeting last 10-11 July 2013 at the Manila Hotel: Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) and Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Prize. The NAST OYS award is “given to young Filipino scientists…who have made significant contributions to science and technology.” Dr. Guerrero is one of the nine awardees. The NAST TWAS Prize, on the other hand, “is an award given to outstanding young Filipino scientist by the Academy (NAST) and TWAS in the field of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, or Physics.” The TWAS award has the same age requirement as that of the OYS award. For the year 2013, the TWAS award was Dr. Raphael Guerrero:

 For 2013, the award is given to outstanding individual in the field of Physics. Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero of the Ateneo de Manila University was declared recipient of the said award, in recognition of his important studies on volume holographic storage and animation which offers a new holographic method for storing multiple pages of data in a nonlinear crystal and his works on the diffraction from relief gratings on a biomimetic elastomer cast from the carapace of a beetle found in Mindanao, Philippines, which have contributed significantly to the visibility of Philippine physics within the global community of scientists.

The other NAST OYS awardee is Dr. Liane Pena-Alampay of the Department of Psychology (see the related news story at the Loyola Schools website).  Below is an an interview with Dr. Raphael Guerrero by the Ateneo Physics News.

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero in his office at the Photonics Laboratory in Faura Hall

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero in his office at the Photonics Laboratory in Faura Hall

Question 1: Can you tell us more about the award?

I was awarded Outstanding Young Scientist by the NAST, the highest recognition and advisory body regarding S&T in the country. NAST is a body consisting of the premier minds of science in the Philippines. The President of the Philippines listens to the recommendations of NAST. The awarding process started July 11, 2013. Last November 2, the nomination forms and supporting documents were submitted for those who wish to get the award for 2013. The notification letters came by the fourth week of May. It was six months of waiting. There was a screening committee for the Outstanding Young Scientists. They asked me to submit other requirements: descriptions of scientific accomplishments and other stuff needed to get a background on what I do as a scientist.

Question 2. How long have you been in Ateneo?

I started teaching in the second semester of SY 2000-2001. That was 13 years ago. I had just received my master’s degree from UP that April. After a semester of being a research associate at NIP, I decided to give teaching a try. Back then, I walked up to the third floor. The chair was Dr. Holdsworth. I inquired about the possibility of teaching in the department. Luckily, the department was actually looking for an instructor. After submitted my documents, they gave me a load. My load was interesting: I taught all majors for Ps 171 (Classical Electrodynamics I), Ps 113 (Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics), and Ps 102 (Classical Mechanics II). Not bad for someone teaching for the first time.

I gave a demonstration lecture. I remember that Gemma Narisma, Ivan Culaba, Obiminda Cambaliza, and Joel Maquiling were part of the audience. We had not really met at that point in time. I gave a demo on diffraction from a slit. It was in F304. I did not notice anybody else or maybe I was scheduled at a different time. I’m not sure if there were other new faculty.

Question 3. What was your career background?

I went to UP Rural High School. It is the official high school of UP Los Baños located next door to my elementary school. After high school, I always wanted to go to UP Diliman. I applied for their Physics program at UP Diliman, a pure physics program. It was a five-year course. (I work mostly on Applied Physics these days.) In 1998, I entered the laser physics lab in my 3rd year doing work on photorefractive crystals. In that same year, I graduated after performing work on Bismuth Silicon Oxide type of photorefractive crystal requiring 5 kV applied voltage. It was the first demo of volume data storage in the Philippines. Back then, it was the best you can possibly do. Holography was still in infancy in the late 1990s. After graduation, I felt I learned nothing from my BS degree, so I took up master’s degree in UP Diliman. It took two years. Different crystals, but still on volume holography and Lithium Niobate. I obtained my masters degree in 2004. Getting a PhD was longer.

I took a break for a semester before proceeding to the PhD program in UP. I started the PhD program while teaching in Ateneo. I mostly teach a series of electives The biggest challenge was coming up with an original work published. After some awkward first few years of trying to find a suitable topic, I was able to publish an article on pattern recognition, still using Lithium Niobate and volume holography. It was accepted June 2004. I graduated with PhD in Physics in 2005. This was while I was teaching full time in Ateneo. In 4.5 years, a Ph.D. can be done full time.

After obtaining the third degree, I was no longer interest in postdoctoral study. It is not something programmed into me. I became busy improving the research capabilities of the Photonics Laboratory in Ateneo. In Physics, we can generate ISI-indexed publications.

I received funding from government over a course of several projects. Previously, the Photonics Laboratory was focused on optical fibers and semiconductor diode lasers. That was the laboratory I saw in 2001 which I inherited under Dr. Holdsworth. Today, the laboratory is mostly on elastomeric optics using PDMS or polydimethylsiloxane, commonly known as silicones. We also have the only working volume in holography set-up in the country. The technology was transplanted from the National Institute of Physics (NIP) to here at the Department of Physics of the Ateneo de Manila University.

In 2005, Ateneo made me assistant professor. No big deal, after getting your PhD. After four years of working and generating papers, I became Associate Professor in 2009, still teaching full time. And here we are in 2013–still teaching, still in the same office.

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero with his family

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero with his family

Question 4. What led you into physics?

My parents are trying to figure that one out. After the awarding, we were getting coffee and they were just talking, reminiscing whether there were any signs I would go into science. My father, Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero III, is a famous man of science. He developed the method of increasing the productivity of the tilapia industry using the sex reversal technique. He is a legend. His science helped people get food. It is a really important piece of technology. My mother, of course, is a talented zoologist. These fields are loosely related to experimental physics.

I guess, when I was growing up, I remember my father going on trips giving lectures, seminars. Each time he would come home with a souvenir and a toy. All the toys are science-based. The rocket would be launched via water pressure. A He-Man flashlight which you pumped with your hand. There are also Chemistry toys, but I never liked chemistry. I had two telescopes. I had a lot of toys that deals with science in high school.

When we were choosing courses, I joked that that the hardest course in the list is UPCAT. Physics was good. Molecular Biology and Biotechnology were hot, really hot in early ‘90s, but people didn’t know what they were. Physics just sounded really good, so I went to UP Los Baños for Applied Physics. I saw the people working in the farm — that was not really inspiring to me. So I decided to pursue physics. Diliman was the flagship school of UP, the only UP branch that offered physics, and I really wanted to go to Diliman. UPLB was not cool enough for me.

And in the ‘90s, there was MacGyver. He was known for figuring out and solving problems and helping people. There was amazing physics in MacGyver. It was something to do, but in the end it was still a mystery. I don’t know why I went to this field. Interesting. Maybe it’s because people are impressed by physics majors, though scientists find that hard to believe.

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero and his toy collection

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero and his toy collection

Question 5. Can you tell us about your toys?

Well, they say men never really grow up. I might be the best example of that. Some men have sports cars as toys. Some guys a high-end computers. I just stuck with actual toys. My collection is not random. Some are based on comic characters I resonated with, on stories from Marvel and DC. Like growing up I bought toys and statuettes in some cases, portrayed them in some cases, because the stories are nice. Buying a toy is my way of commemorating how important they were to me growing up. Also with a regular salary, it is easier to buy toys. I was able to buy Voltes V in die-cast metal that I did not get one Christmas. Voltes-V costs a lot of money back then. It costs even more now. It was a lost opportunity; I could have bought it before. Anything that I find interesting that I can afford these days, I look for bargains. I also have a collection of comics in high school, and I never stopped. It has become a major investment in money and space. I have several shelves dedicated to graphic novels. The boxes of comic books increase in number every year. Cliché in Big Bang Theory. That is my life right there. Interesting hobby. Very interesting way to spend your time collecting mementos and reading these fantastic stories.

I give my students a false sense of security in PS1 and PS11. I always start the class with a broad description of physics — really interesting, such as Star Wars, using it after every sentence. that is the fun part of the semester: light sabers, star destroyers, or faster than light travel. They all have physics in them, but no syllabus. I find it really difficult to lecture physics. How I wish I could inject a Star Wars into every lecture. With both content and time constraint, this is not feasible.

6. You travel a lot?

Not as much as I would like to travel for free. I have been lucky having visited many countries because of my physics background–attending conferences, being invited or participating in a certain function. I have a checklist of countries. Egypt, 2008. I am specifically looking forward to a conference in Cairo. I found a military college in Egypt which gave me an excuse to visit Egypt, with support from the University. Subsidized conference expenses. It would be worth it to touch the great pyramids, inhale the dust of Giza Plateau. In Italy, Rome was nice. I was able to see the David sculpture of Michaelangelo. I was able to take a picture of – you are not supposed to do that. I went to Japan several times. US, of course, is my favorite destination for the shopping and for the sheer size of the conferences in optics. Largest Optics Cnference is the SPIE conference in San Diego. It runs for several days. The research areas in optics were vast, so vast that they have become subsections. The plenary talks were from Nobel laureates were humbling and inspiring. Just to mingle with those optical scientists proved inspiring.

Every year I try to go abroad. But I still have to go to Paris. I want to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Taj Mahal. I want to know what is like to travel in another Third World country. I want to go to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, though my wife is terrified of possibly catching diseases. I wish to go to the Great Wall of China. I have not seen in years.

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero with his graduate and undergraduate thesis students at the Photonics Laboratory

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero with his graduate and undergraduate thesis students at the Photonics Laboratory

7. Are there other things you wish to add?

I want to thank the department for providing me such a welcoming and supportive home for my professional career. Many faculty members here have become my close friends. I am lucky to be part of the faculty in Ateneo. Ateneo trusted me with a load of teaching these college kids. It feels like it’s a privilege and an honor to be part of this institution. I am very grateful to the Department of Physics, which really supported through these past thirteen years in my accomplishments, awards, publications, action figures, although all that would not have been possible without the support of the university.

8. What are you visions or plans for the Photonics Laboratory?

We talked about this, Pope (Quirino Sugon Jr.). I wish getting published in a journal were easier. Over the next five years, we will have every graduate thesis in Photonics translated in tons of ISI-indexed articles. I plan to translate these into articles this year for all of my graduate students. I would also like to increase the output of papers. Hopefully, we can increase the average number of paper published from one paper a year to two papers a year. I would like to apply for lots of big projects, or maybe buy bigger light sources and lasers and other equipment the lab needs to proceed with research output. I plan to increase publications output. Well, it is still the same goal I had five years ago.

9. Do you have any message to our physics students?

I wish you all the best! I hope physics is as good to you as it is to me. I have been very, very lucky that physics has had to do with my success up to this point, and I hope you will fully enjoy the adventure as physics majors as much as I did. Don’t lose hope! There is a future in physics. You just have to find it.

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero and Dr. Liane Pena-Alampay with the administrators of Ateneo de Manila University

Dr. Raphael A. Guerrero and Dr. Liane Pena-Alampay with the administrators of NAST and Ateneo de Manila University