Erasmus+ ARTIST project for science teaching innovation at AdMU: An interview with Mr. Ivan Culaba of the Physics Department


The ARTIST partners during the kick-off meeting at University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany on January 2017. In the photo are Dr. Joel Maquiling (back row, 3rd from the left) and Mr. Ivan Culaba (back row, 2nd from the right) of the Department of Physics, School of Science and Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University. Source: Action Research To Innovate Science Teaching (ARTIST)

by Quirino Sugon Jr

Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University-Manila were chosen by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Program as its two partner universities in the Philippines for the ARTIST (Action Research To Innovate Science Teaching) project. The other eight partner universities are University of Bremen (Germany), Ilia State University (Georgia), Alpe-Adria-University (Austria), University of Limerick (Ireland), Gazi University (Turkey), Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University (Georgia), The Academic Arab College of Education (Israel), and Oranim Academic College of Education (Israel). The project coordinators are Prof. Dr. Ingo Eilks of the University of Bremen and Prof. Dr. Marika Kapanadze of Ilia State University.

The ARTIST project aims to innovate science education through classroom‐based and teacher‐driven Action Research–a cycle of innovation, research, reflection and improvement–by forming networks of higher education institutions, schools and industry partners in each partner country. The ARTIST project allows the partner universities to acquire state-of-the art audio-visual and science equipment for teacher trainings and instructions. Training materials on action research will be developed and used in workshops and courses.

Below is an interview with Mr. Ivan Culaba, manager of the ARTIST project in Ateneo de Manila University.

1. What is your role in the project?  Are there other AdMU faculty involved here? 

I am the manager of the ARTIST project in Ateneo. In the Department of Physics, Dr. Joel T. Maquiling and Ms. Johanna Mae M.  Indias are also involved in the project. Joel has accompanied me in the meetings and helped in the presentations. Joel and Johanna helped in the identification of possible industry partners. Johanna also visited the high schools for evaluation as possible network partners. Ms. Via Lereinne B. Chuavon of the Office of Social Concern and Involvement assisted us in the networking with high schools and communications with the Schools Division Office of Marikina City. I also had very constructive discussions with Mr. Christopher Peabody of the Department of Chemistry. Mr. Tirso U. Raza, of the Office of Facilities and Sustainability has assisted us in finding the source of the audio visual equipment and in the preparation of the rooms for their installation. Our technicians, Mr, Numeriano Melaya, Mr. Colombo Enaje, Jr. and Mr. Ruel Agas have been working on making the ADMU ARTIST Network Center and Physics Education Resource Center (F-230, Faura Hall) become functional.



Action Research for the Reflective Practitioner workshop at Ateneo de Manila University, 7 April 2017

3. How did you get involved in the project?


This project was conceived by Prof. Eilks and Prof. Kapanadze after their successful implementation of TEMPUS project SALiS. I met Prof. Kanapadze during the Active Learning in Optics and Photonics workshop at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia in 2014, where she was the organizer. She invited me into the ARTIST project and I extended the same invitation to Dr. Lydia Roleda of the De La Salle University-Manila.

I became interested in the ARTIST project since we had just started with the NSTP activity wherein our Physics majors were assigned to Sta. Elena High School for the area engagements. While our students were facilitating in the high school students’ physics activities we were also engaged in the Physics training of the science teachers in the same school. We thought that the high schools would immensely benefit from the ARTIST project in line with the university’s thrust for greater social involvement and service learning.

The ARTIST project was approved by the EU commission on October 2016 but the first tranche of the budget was released on January 2017.

4. What were your ARTIST meetings in Europe all about? 

The kick-off meeting was held at the University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany on 18-20 January 2017. It was the first time that we met our collaborators in the project. The objectives of the project, deliverables, work plans, and financial management among other topics were discussed. The second meeting was held at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Vienna, Austria on 14-15 September 2017. Progress reports on the networking with schools and industries, financial status of each partner university, scheduling of the workshops, planning of the e-journal ARISE and other matters were discussed in the meeting. The EU officials were not present in the meeting.


Physics Education Resource Center (PERC) and ARTIST Network office Room F-230, Faura Hall

5. How is the Physics Education Resource Center in Faura Hall?  

I am very happy that we now have a Physics Education Resource Center (PERC) where the Physics Education group can meet and hold meetings and where the valuable lecture demonstration experiment set-ups can be displayed and made accessible to the faculty of the Department. A number of the demos have been transferred from F-229 and SEC C labs to PERC. Acquisition and development of lecture demonstration experiments will be a continuing process. The next step is the documentation of the resources so that the faculty may know what demos are available and how to use them.

The room will also serve as the office of the ARTIST project. The science equipment which will be purchased under this project will be placed in this room. We have ordered Physics equipment which are aligned to the Physics topics in Grades 7-10, although they may also be used for senior high school Physics. The list covers mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, waves and sound, optics and electromagnetism. There will also be materials which will be locally fabricated like ticker taper timers, circuit boards and Plexiglass lenses.

6. What are upcoming activities of the ARTIST project for this year?

We have held two seminar-workshops on Action Research. The first one was held on August last year in Ateneo de Manila. Prof. Maricar S. Prudente, who is an expert in Action Research, was the main speaker. The facilitators were Dr. Lydia S. Roleda, Dr. Minie Rose C. Lapinid and Dr. Socorro C. Aguja. They are all from the Science Department, Bro. Andrew Gonzales, FSC College of Education, De La Salle University. There were about ten participants from Roosevelt College, Inc. and some graduate students.

The second seminar-workshop was held recently on 7 April 2018 at Faura Hall, Ateneo de Manila. It was organized by the ARTIST team of Ateneo and De La Salle. The same team of speaker and facilitators from De La Salle University ran the seminar-workshop. A total of 31 participants from the ARTIST network of high schools – Parang High School, Sta. Elena High School, Marikina High School, Colegio de San Agustin, and graduate students in MS Science Education attended the workshop.

Another workshop on Action Research will be held on 15-18 May 2018 at De La Salle University-Manila. The ARTIST partners from Germany, Ireland, Austria, Georgia and Israel will facilitate the workshop. The first three days will be spent on understanding AR and writing AR proposals by selected teacher-participants. There will be an AR symposium, open to other teachers, on the fourth day where AR case studies will be presented.

Come October 2018 the workshop on Action Research and a meeting of the collaborators will be held in Haifa, Israel.

7. Any parting thoughts?

We hope that this project will have a positive impact on the way science is taught in the partner high schools and the lessons learned from these experiences may be adapted by other schools in the country.


Participants of Action Research for the Reflective Practitioner workshop at Ateneo de Manila University, 4 August 2017


Ateneo Physics faculty Artoni Ang went to a two-week internship at NAIST

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Artoni Ang setting up of the UHV SEM for Auger Electron Spectroscopy

Artoni Ang setting up of the UHV SEM for Auger Electron Spectroscopy

Artoni Ang, an Assistant Instructor and a graduate student of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University, went to Narra Institute of Technology (NAIST) last October 2012 for a two-week internship.  NAIST is a graduate school for Material Science, Information Science and Biological Sciences in Nara, Japan. Since 2006, it has been holding the NAIST Project for Interns (NAPI) where qualified students from the Ateneo de Manila University are invited to the laboratory of their choice for a 2 week internship.  For his internship, Artoni went to the Surface and Materials Laboratory under Professor Hiroshi Daimon.  This laboratory focuses on the study of nanomaterials, surfaces, and interfaces using the 10 m long Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) total analysis system developed by the laboratory.

Below is an interview of Artoni by the Ateneo Physics News:

1. How long have you been teaching in Ateneo?

Less than a year.  This is my second semester. I am teaching Ps 1 and 2 (Natural Science course) and various lab classes for Health Science and Biology majors. I am teaching 13 units this semester.

2.  Where do you do your research in Ateneo?

I work in Mr. Ivan Culaba’s Vacuum Coating Laboratory at the first floor of Faura Hall. Right now I am working on thin films on elastomeric substrates. I am trying to make stretchable diffraction grating. Specifically, I wish to reduce the cracking on the metal film as the grating is stretched. Metal films on stretchable substrates have many applications.  Diffraction gratings are just one of them.  Diffraction gratings are surfaces with very fine line grooves like furrows in a field, except that the distance between furrows is in the order of the wavelength of light, which is a few hundred nanometers or a fraction of the width of a hair strand.  Reducing cracking of the grating would increase the lifetime of such material.  I am working on the optical properties of materials by using the grating as a beam scanner. If we have a beam incident to the grating, we can change the angle of the of the reflected beam by stretching the grating. Stretching would change of the grating pitch or the distance between the line grooves.

3.  How is your work in the lab related to your work in the NAIST laboratory?

It is not exactly related but similar . Here we work with thin films with thickness levels in the nanometer and micrometer range in the wavelength of light. In NAIST we work with even thinner films in the Angstrom level or about 10 layers of atoms thick. Here we have high vacuum systems with pressures of 10^{-5} torr. In NAIST they have ultra high vacuum high systems of 10^{-10} torr. Most of the procedures in running the equipment are the same, except when the pressures reach 10^{-10}: they have to bake the chambers. They wrap the chambers with heating blankets and bake the chambers for a month to get it to 10^{-10} torr. In our case to reach 10^{-5} torr, we only need 2 hours to pump it down. We use rotary pump and oil diffusion pump. In NAIST they use turbo molecular pumps and titanium sublimation pumps. After they bake their chambers they leave it at that pressure range. Then they leave all their pumps turned on 24 hours a day. In our case, we shut the system down once we are done with a specific experiment. We don’t need to keep it turned it overnight, because we can regain the same pressure the next day after 2 hours.

The panel that controls the substrate holders in their UHV system

The panel that controls the substrate holders in their UHV system

3.  How many interns were from Ateneo?

There were 10 of us: 1 from Biology, 4 from Materials Science, and 5 from Information Science. I am part of the Material Science group. We were all assigned to different labs. We only see each other during scheduled trips or if we run into each other during the day. I am on my own from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

4.  What was your day like in the NAIST laboratory?

During my first day there, they held a welcoming tea party for me. So all of the grad students and most of the pofessors were there. I get to meet everyone. Since they were around 20 of them, I can’ t remember all their names. They opened the dried mangoes I brought. They all liked it. It wasn’t a formal Japanese tea ceremony.

I was there for 2 weeks. But lab work was only about 8 days. The usual day starts with me going to the laboratory at around 9:00 a.m, though I usually try to arrive a bit later. I don’t like to be the first one in the laboratory alone. And I stay outside to wait for a graduate student to arrive. They actually they told me where they hide the key, but I am not comfortable going inside without them. My day actually starts around 10:00 a.m. I waste an hour waiting outside.

Their lab is divided into two main parts: experimental section and the offices. In my  first day they assigned  me to an empty desk. And that is where I stay. In my first day, too, I met with one of the professors: Sakura Takeda-sensei. She created a schedule for me so that I will be working with different students with their own research projects. When working with them, they perform their experiments and explain the details to me. And in some cases. I get hands-on. In one particular case, we were working for two days on a scanning tunneling microscope. But it was repair and maintenance duties. We have to remove some of the main components. It was a long job. I think they finished all the maintenance work a few days before I left. And they started baking it. I guess they had to wait a month before they can even start using it.

I was assigned to do analysis on the data we collected in the experiments. I did image processing on diffraction patterns from RHEED (Reflection High Energy Electron Diffraction) experiments. I analyzed the data collected using ARPES (Angle Resolved Photoelectron Spectroscopy). From that data we were able to obtain the electron band structure of the Lead monolayer on Germanium. I was  suppose to get the mass of heavy hole from that data, but I did not get to finish the calculations. They had their own software which came with equipment. And there was another software that I think one of the graduate students wrote using java. It just converts the data collected from ARPES to electron band diagram we are all familiar with.

I worked with another student doing RHEED experiments on Indium monolayer on Silicon substrates. I also used the Scanning Electron Microscopes on Iron polycrystalline sample. I was suppose to help on the experiment involving Bismuth on Silicon, but one of the major gauges broke down, so we have to stop.

I attended study sessions, a laboratory meeting, and a laboratory colloquium. In the study session, we spent around an hour discussing theoretical principles behind ARPES. In the colloquium, we spent the entire morning listening to two graduate students presenting papers relevant to their work. It would have been were more interesting if they were reporting in English, but they were speaking in Japanese. I sat there the entire morning looking at their slides. In the afternoon is the colloquium where every graduate student presented a slide or two about their progress since the last lab meeting. Some of the students were presenting slides whose only progress is that  they attended courses or studied their exam. Nevertheless, they still have to present those because it is apart of their process. There are also students who made a lot of progress. They presented a lot of the data they were collecting. They also made me present a brief overview of the research that I do in the Philippines. I had to leave after 4 hours. I think their meeting lasted 6 hours–the whole afternoon. Between the colloquium and laboratory meeting is lunch break. And there is 30 minutes of general laboratory cleanup.  Everybody cleans by sweeping or mopping the floors.

During the first week my sensei gave me a lot of books. After 5:00 p.m. , I usually go straight to the dorm and read the books–not the entire book but only the selected chapters. I think she was surprised that I can read them overnight, because she is just used that her students have difficulty reading books in English. So from their point of view, I read really fast.

A group photo with the professors and students of the Surface and Material Science Laboratory

A group photo with the professors and students of the Surface and Material Science Laboratory

5.  What do you like best during your stay in Japan?

Their transportation system is very organized. If the train is scheduled to arrive at 8:02 a.m., it will actually arrive at 8:02 a.m..  So if we go out for dinner or cultural trip, our entire travel itinerary was already arranged, because they know the schedules of the trains and buses. It was easy getting around even without a car.  And this was in Narra which is not one of the big urbanized area. But despite that the transportation system is very good. In fact when you go out to the gate of NAIST, the first thing that you see is a rice field and it smells like a rice field. But then there is a bus station in front of the gate.  So even if it is in the rural part of Narra, we can still get around. We can also actually walk to the closest train station, but it takes 40 minutes.

It seems very safe there. There were times we walked to the train station in the middle of the night beside the big mall at around 10 or 11 p.m. We were not worried about being held up. The sense of security is also visible in the campus itself. They don’t have a close gate. It is just an open road that goes toward the campus. I don’t see any security guard walking around.

Of course the food was great. The organizers brought us to Japanese restaurants. We got to try sushi, yakiniku, okonomiyaki, ramen, and some other Japanese foods. Before I went there, I promised myself that I will never say no. I will eat whatever served to me. Half of what I ate there, I don’t know what it was. And then we had weekend trips to Kyoto, Osaka, and Narra. We got to visit some of the old temples and an aquarium in Osaka. During our last day there, they took us to the shopping district in Osaka,where they sold everything from electronics to anime things to clothes.

6.  Any parting thoughts?

Overall it was a good experience. You get to see how research is done in universities in other countries. The research culture is very different. Most of the students are full-time researchers. They don’t attend courses. They only worry about their research projects. They spend an entire day in the lab, because they have a desk there. They are really focused on what they are doing in the lab. Unlike in my experience as a student, my attention is divided in the courses I am taking and the research I am doing. Of course, it would be easier if you are only focused on research work.

It was also eye-opening to me to see how disciplined the Japanese people are.  After eating in the cafeteria, they clean up. We don’t see people littering. They all follow traffic rules, unlike here in the Philippines where traffic is very chaotic.

After I finish my Masters degree, I plan to apply for Ph.D. degree outside the Philippines. I am now looking at Erasmus Mundus program for Materials Science. I have already informed my Professors in NAIST that I will be applying there, too. Hopefully, I get accepted to one of them. If not , I shall also apply to universities in the United States.

Johanna Mae Indias of Ateneo Physics Department to study at Trento University through Erasmus Mundus

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Johanna Mae Indias

Johanna Mae Indias

Johanna Mae M. Indias, Asst. Instructor in the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University, will be taking her M.S. in Physics at the University of Trento, Italy, through a 22-month grant from Erasmus Mundus Action 2 (EMA2).

“Sunshine”, as she is fondly called, is interested in enrolling in University of Trento’s  Biological and Medical Physics program.  This program consists of 30 units of mandatory courses in Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, and Nuclear Physics.  The students then take 36 units of area courses such as Biological Physics, Optical Spectroscopy, and Photonics.  There are 12 units of free electives and 42 units of thesis courses under Prof. Antolini and Prof. Scarpa.  Some possible thesis topics are as follows:

  • Protein science and technology
  • Physical basis of heart and brain functions
  • Cell tissue and imaging by nonlinear optical microscopy
  • Medical and health physics and technology
  • Advanced technological approaches to biophysical investigation (nanodevices, biosensors, etc)
At present, Shine is part of the Photonics Laboratory.  Under the supervision of Dr. Raphael Guerrero, Shine worked in the dark room, blasting laser beams on hapless fluid-filled elastomeric lenses or placing obstacles on laser beams to see if they can reconstruct themselves unscathed (Bessel beams) or capturing 3D  image of light in a crystal (holography).  Soon she will leave all these and go to the place where the  the grass is greener and the sun shines warmer.  At Trento, she’ll find new laser toys to enlighten the human brain and see how it sees.
Farewell, Shine!
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Traditional Irish Blessing

Dr. Erees Queen Macabebe of ECCE Department to do solar cell research in Italy funded by Erasmus Mundus

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Dr. Reese Macabebe

Dr. Erees Queen Macabebe of ECCE Department

Time flies fast. Six years ago in 2005, Reese and I played table tennis with other faculty members in the Ateneo Dorm playing area near the Cervini Cafeteria.  On that night, she said goodbye to each one of us.  She was leaving for South Africa then for her Ph.D. in Physics at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Fast forward to 2009.  I met Reese again at Manang’s Club House in a table facing the tennis court.  She had finished her Ph.D. in Physics.  Her field is in photovoltaics or solar cells.  She uses an algorithm based on swarm intelligence of bees and fishes to characterize the performance of solar cells.  Her work earned her a distinction of being one of the finalist in the Solar World Junior Einstein Award.  Upon her return to Ateneo de Manila University, she joined the ECCE department and led the photovoltaic research group.

Reese finished at the  Philippine Science High School (1998) in Western Visayas.  She was awarded a DOST scholarship to study in Ateneo de Manila University.  She worked in the Vacuum Coating Laboratory under the mentorship of Mr. Ivan Culaba.  Her thesis is on anti-reflection coatings using thin films.  She finished BS Physics in 2002 and BS Computer Engineering in 2003.  Reese then taught at the physics department and finished her Master in Physics Education in 2005.  Upon the suggestion of Dr. Jerrold Garcia who was the Physics Department chair then, Reese looked for a Ph.D. program abroad and chose South Africa.

Now, Reese is saying goodbye again to us her friends.  She was accepted for an Erasmus Mundus grant, an excerpt of which reads:

In the framework of the European Programme ERASMUS MUNDUS Action 2 EMMA West, coordinated by Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis (France) with the partnership of Università degli Studi di Padova (Italy) and funded by the European Commission, Dr Macabebe, Erees Queen  will spend a period of study/research of 6 months at Università degli Studi di Padova -Department of Technical Physics from October 15th 2011. Her supervisor will be Prof Davide Del Col.

In her correspondence with Prof Del Col, Reese was informed that she will be working on characterization of dye-sensitized solar cells in collaboration with Prof Vito di Noto of the Department of Chemistry. She will leave for Italy on the 17th of October.

Reese has gone to many parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, circling the world with the sun, and for a time plants herself like a sunflower in foreign soil, unfolds her photovoltaic petals, and directs them to the sun till it passes over the horizon.

Farewell, Reese!  Best wishes!  And before you leave, let’s play table tennis.