Women of Science children’s book series launched at Rizal Library

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From left to right: Dr. Hilconida Calumpong, Dr. Angela Nina Ann R. Ingle, Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, Jurgette Honculada (for Dr. Jurgenne Primavera), Dr. Consolacion Ragaza, Dr. Ma. Louise Antonette de las Penas, Dr. Ma. Mercedes Rodrigo, Mikhaila Aldaba, Joreen Navarro, Gabi Dimaranan, Ma. Montessa Realista during the closing ceremony of the Women of Science children’s book launch last 20 June 2017, 5:00 pm, at the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University.

by Quirino Sugon Jr and Socorro Margarita T. Rodrigo

Last 20 June 2017, a children’s book series on Women of Science by Dr. Didith Rodrigo was launched at the 5th floor Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University. About 80 people attended the event. The book series launch featured was graced by administrators from Ateneo de Manila University, Bookmark Incorporated, the National Development Board. The book series author Dr. Didith Rodrigo gave a response, together with some of the featured women scientists and the book illustrators.  Socorro Rodrigo, the daughter of Dr. Rodrigo and a BS Physics graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, served as the program’s emcee. After the Closing Remarks, the book signing followed with a dinner.

Below is a summary of the proceedings during the book launch.

A. Opening Remarks

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Left: Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, President of Ateneo de Manila University, gives a Welcome message during the launch of the Women of Science children’s book series. Right: The audience during the book launch at Rizal Library.

The program started at 5:00 p.m. The Opening Remarks was given by Anna Maria Delfin, General Manager of Bookmark, Inc, the publisher of the Women of Science Series. She was followed by Fr. Jett Villarin, President of Ateneo de Manila University, who gave the Welcome Message.

B. Message from the National Book Development Board

Anthony John Balisi, Director I of the National Book Development Board, talked about how the board’s science and technology grants provides support for Filipino authors, such as Didith Rodrigo, to publish their new or unfinished manuscripts. He noticed that there is a general lack of female scientist role models in the Philippines. He hoped that the Women in Science book series would inspire young boys and girls to pursue science careers. The National Book Development Board was created during the Presidency of Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 through R.A. 8047, also known as The Book Publishing Industry Development Act.

C. Overview of the Women of Science Series

Dr. Didith Rodrigo, the author of the Women in Science Series, gave an overview of the Women of Science children’s book series. She said that unlike TV and movie celebrities, scientists are not given air time of comparable scale. The book series, therefore, fills this need by featuring women have done so much as scientists and published researchers or as leaders in Philippine institutions. The series aims to make the science accessible without dumbing it down.  She added that if she were still a student, she would have chosen one of these 10 women as mentor.

D. Message from some of the artists

Joreen Navarro, Creative Officer at Works of Heart Creatives Inc. and illustrator of Chemical Romance, said that she doesn’t really do drawing gigs, but changed her mind when she read about the story about how Dr. Connie Ragasa contributes to studies on cancer.

Gabi Dimaranan, illustrator of Cave Dweller, said she loves nature and enjoyed illustrating the story of Dr. Ging Nuneza, a woman who seeks to preserve the wildlife in Mindanao.

Mikhaila Aldaba, illustrator of Rigid Motion, was inspired at the collection of Filipino mats shown to her. These mats were derived from the mathematical work on tilings by Dr. Ninette de las Penas. (Mika had prepared slides for her speech, but was unable to show them. You may contact her if you wish to see her slides.)

E. Messages from featured Women of Science

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Left: Women of Science Poster at the 5th floor of Rizal Library. Right: Dr. Ninette de las Penas and Dr. Gemma Narisma sign copies of their books during the launch of the Women of Science children’s book series.

Dr. Ninette de las Penas, the mathematician featured in Rigid Motion, specializes on group theory and its applications on coloring of tile patterns. She discussed how the symmetry laws describing rigid motion can be used to describe geometric patterns from crystal structures of viruses to geometric patterns in art and culture, such as the mats weaved by the Jama Mapun tribe in Southern Philippines.

Dr. Nina Ingle, the conservationist featured in Capturing Flight,  wrote about the 70 species of bats in the Philippine Islands. She said that the event felt like a homecoming for her, having graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree of BS in Biology (Magna Cum Laude). She received the Parker/Gentry award for her  work on “biodiversity conservation through research, management, and education.” She congratulated Dr. Didith Rodrigo for her book series, since the communication is important skill that scientists need to learn from artists to help share science with young minds.

Dr. Gemma Narisma, the climate scientist featured in Beyond the Storm, works at the Regional Climate Systems of Manila Observatory, studying how climate changes in the country through computational climate models and weather station network data. Dr. Narisma thinks of climate change as a fever experienced by the earth, which results in extreme weather, such as the possibility of Mindanao becoming hotter than Luzon. She hopes that the book will inspire the future generation of climate scientists to help us manage climate risks for sustainable development.

Dr. Nida Calumpong, the marine botanist featured in Gardener of the Sea, teaches undergraduate biology at Siliman University. Her training is in Botany, specializing on the taxonomy, population structures, and genetic markers of marine vegetation, such as plants and algae. Her passion is in resource management, such as rehabilitation of coral reefs in Apo Island Marine Sanctuary, which is home to 650 species of fishes and 400 species of corals. She now works with the United Nations World Oceans Assessment to determine the health and socio-economic aspects of the world’s oceans. Dr. Calumpong said that her mother used to plant trees, so that her children can harvest them in the future. In the same way, we must also take care of the health of the planet for the sake of the next generation.

Dr. Connie Ragasa, the DLSU Chemistry Professor featured in Chemical Romance,  works on the natural isolation of the chemical constituents of medicinal  plants–everything from leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruits. She also worked on mushrooms, mosses, liverworts via extraction larval chromatography. She said that research is not easy, since you need to develop expertise in proper techniques–things that you don’t read in books. She hopes that young students would be inspired to contribute something in their fields someday, not just publications and patents.

F. Video Message from the Vice President of the Philippines

Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines Leni Robredo congratulated Dr. Rodrigo and Bookmark for the launch of Women in Science book series. She hoped that the ground-breaking scientists featured in the series would  inspire the young men and women to excel in science to lead in nation building. She said that the Office of the Vice President lauds the work of Dr. Rodrigo not only in creating awareness in the scientific community, but also to gender equality and inclusive development.

G. Closing Remarks

Dr. Evangeline P. Bautista, Dean of School of Science and Engineering, congratulated Dr. Rodrigo and Bookmark for featuring living non-Western scientists. She said that more books like the Women in Science series would give our youth greater appreciation for science and its role in society, and not just idolize basketball stars and singing celebrities. Dr. Bautista then invited everyone to the book signing and for dinner.

 

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Response of Jaren Ryan Rex (BS APS/ACS) at SOSE Recognition Program for Distinguished Students of 2017

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Jaren Ryan Rex, Magna Cum Laude and Physics Program Awardee, makes a response in behalf of the Honor Students during the SOSE Recognition Program for Distinguished Students at Leong Hall, 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m. Photo by Maria Anna Acejas-Asis.

Dr. Vilches, Dr. Bautista, esteemed faculty, and fellow students, good morning.

It is an honor to be with you all here today. I am sure we are all delighted to have performed as well as we did to receive our hard-earned grades. At the same time, we are humbled to be blessed with the passion for learning and the cognitive capabilities that have enabled us to excel in our fields. We are also humbled to be in each other’s presence, to see others who have excelled, and to celebrate our collective achievements as a community.

As science majors, we can perhaps all agree that reaching this level of excellence has required a great deal of discipline. Reading our textbooks and other references again and again, until we finally understood the lessons; solving problems late into the night to practice for the upcoming exam; working long hours in the lab to accomplish only a small step in our theses—we’ve all learned how hard work pays off through these experiences.

Sometimes, though, we felt it didn’t pay off—we may have been discouraged from time to time with a substandard performance in a test, a difficult concept we couldn’t understand, or a failed experiment. And many of us have been in a love-hate relationship with our theses, recalling those times when we wanted to scream in utter frustration whenever our programs weren’t running properly, or our simulations produced bad results, or our circuits weren’t working, or the reagents didn’t react as expected, or we didn’t see what we wanted to see under the microscope, or the math simply didn’t check out. At one point, we may have given up on doing our best, and settled for “OK, good enough.” But eventually we would get back on our feet and renew our resolve to excel, no matter what challenges we face.

And here we are now! We’ve hurdled four or five years of hardship and trials, and reaped the best rewards: those flashes of insight when we connect two lessons together, the sweet feeling of winning a champion title in a competition, and the extraordinary experience of getting 100% in a long exam and seeing your raw grade decrease because your previous exam was a 137.5/100.

But as Ateneans, we’ve learned not to let all these achievements get to our head, but rather to share our blessings with others and use our talents to help others in the best way possible. We’ve tutored our block mates and other students who needed help understanding the lessons. We’ve organized projects to spread love and appreciation for the sciences: amazing race-type games with stations demonstrating practical applications of science, talks and fora for experts to share their knowledge and experience, and many, many more. Some of us have even gone out and presented our theses or other projects to various audiences, reminding them of the importance of science in our lives.

This brings us to now. After celebrating our achievements, we ask ourselves: What now? Some of us have well-laid plans as to what to do next. But some of us are still unsure, still exploring our options (and doing feasibility checks on them). And what are we to expect from the outside world? I don’t know. Perhaps we will be continually frustrated by people who refuse to believe in the usefulness and relevance of our fields. Perhaps we will be discouraged by the lack of scientific interest in our own country, or the blatant disregard of it elsewhere in the world.

But as scientists and as Ateneans, we know how to respond. We know the truth about how science is ever-present in life, how science shapes our understanding of nature, our technological developments, and our worldview. And we can assert the importance of our careers, whether they be creating products that put science to good use, or doing research that deepens our understanding of the universe, or inspiring the next generation of scientists. We will not be discouraged by the evils of the world; rather, we shall commit to serving God and the world by continuing to excel in our fields.

Once again, we thank the Ateneo for giving us this opportunity to excel. Wherever we go, we shall inspire others to do the same.

Thank you all.

Jaren Ryan Rex (BS APS/ACS): Magna Cum Laude and Physics Program Awardee for 2017

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From left to right: VP for Loyola Schools Dr. Maria Luz P. Vilches, Physics Department Chair Dr. Raphel Guerrero, SOSE Awardee Jaren Ryan Rex, and SOSE Dean Dr. Evangeline Bautista at the SOSE Recognition Program for Distinguished Students held at Leong Hall Auditorium last 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m.

by Ellice Dane Ancheta and Quirino Sugon Jr

BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems student Jaren Ryan Rex is one of the students recognized by School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University in a Recognition Program for Distinguished Students held in Leong Hall Auditorium last 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m. Jaren finished Magna Cum Laude and was chosen as the Program Awardee of the Department of Physics. He finished his elementary at Multiple Intelligence International School and his high school at Philippine Science High School Main Campus where he graduated with Highest Honors. Upon entering Ateneo de Manila University for his undergraduate studies, Jaren was given the Fr. Thomas B. Steinbugler, SJ Academic Scholarship, a 100% tuition and fees scholarship for valedictorians from Jesuit and science high schools.

Below is an interview with Jaren Ryan Rex by Ateneo Physics News.

1. Why did you choose Ateneo in college?

It is an interesting piece of information. I was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s syndrome, which means my social and physical skills were underdeveloped. So when deciding where to study for college, my parents and I were discussing whether I would go to UP or Ateneo. We weighed the pros and cons, and we decided that Ateneo would be a more friendly and nurturing environment to help me overcome my challenges better. And I think it did. And also, my choice of a double major course, BS Applied Physics/ BS Applied Computer Systems is only offered here.

2. What was your BS Applied Physics thesis?

In my undergraduate thesis, I simulated typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) several times using the weather model called WRF, short for Weather Research and Forecasting model. The WRF model has many different physical parameters that represent physical assumptions made by the model, such as the amount of air that flows between atmospheric columns, the mixing ratios of different states of water in clouds, and the interaction between the air and the ocean. These are just a few parameters that can be varied in the WRF mode. In my thesis I tried varying all of these to see which parameters caused Haiyan to be most intense. I hoped we would be able to understand more the physics of how Haiyan became so destructive.

For each of these parameters there are different schemes that we set for the parameters, and each parameter affected a different part of the simulation. Some parameters affected the typhoon’s track. Some affected the minimum sea level pressure. Some affected the wind speed. For each parameter, there were settings that produced the most intense typhoon in the simulation: that’s what I assumed to be closest to the actual state of the atmosphere and the ocean during the typhoon. Some settings would make the track very accurate, but the sea level pressure would be too high. It would not be as intense as observed—in fact, very far away from observed intensity. On the other hand, there were settings of the same parameters that made Haiayan more intense but also caused it to deviate far away from its observed track. The model itself could use some improvements.

3. What was your BS Applied Computer Systems thesis?

I got concrete blocks and dropped weights on them so they would crack. I dropped the weight repeatedly and took a picture of the block after I dropped the weight. A new crack would form, and would appear in the picture. I would then have a series of pictures that show how the crack propagates after each impact. Then I would run different image processing operations on the pictures to analyze the properties such as the length and the branching patterns of the cracks. For image processing, I used OpenCV (CV stands for Computer Vision) for Python, which I learned on my own. I did not simulate. All the experiments were actual physical experiments.

I had experiments where I varied the height from which I dropped the weight, to measure the rate at which the crack propagates in relation to the energy of impact. I have another set of experiments where I had different compositions of the concrete. They are mixtures of cement and sand. I varied the ratio of cement to sand by volume. For the experiments where I varied the mixture, I found that pure cement is much weaker compared to mixtures of cement and sand, meaning it cracks with much fewer impacts. The cement-sand mixtures crack after about three times as many impacts as pure cement. But on the other hand, for the cement-sand mixtures, it does not seem to matter how much sand is there. The strength of the block is relatively constant with respect to the amount of sand. For the experiments where I varied the height, I got the obvious results. The blocks crack faster when the weight is dropped from a higher distance, since more energy is input into the block for each impact. And also actually what is interesting is, for the higher impact distance, the crack forms more branches than with lower heights.

Actually I was supposed to predict quantitatively how cracks propagate but my thesis was submitted in a somewhat unfinished state based on the results I was able to produce. My plan was to use the image processing techniques to get a measure of the crack length, crack area and even the speed of propagation. But what I ended up doing was trying so many image processing techniques to isolate the crack in the image. It was hard to find a good algorithm because usually there was a lot of black noise in the image background, making it hard to see the cracks.

I eventually found an image processing technique that makes the crack stands out from the background much more compared to the other image processing technique. It is called bottom-hat filter. I just put in the recommendations that the results of applying the bottom-hat filter can then be analyzed further to extract those quantitative parameters, such as crack length and area. There were a lot of previous studies about image processing of cracks where I found out about the suitability of this kind of image processing. I did not exactly base it on quality control. The intent of this thesis was more of studying how cracks propagate for computational fracture mechanics. I deduce the theory from what is observed.

4. Do you have extra-curricular activities?

I was part of the Ateneo programming varsity team. We competed in programming contests like the ACM-ICPC (Association for Computing Machinery – International Collegiate Programming Contest) among other various local contests. There is also a programming contest hosted by UP Diliman called Algolympics. There are many contests with a similar nature. In programming contest we are usually given problems that have a certain specification and given input. We need to do some computations and process data in some way to produce a certain output. Our goal is to write programs to solve those problems such that whenever you input anything into the program, it will produce the correct output. Most of the time the programming languages we use are limited to C++ and Java.

This semester, I have won two champion titles. One of them is the UP ACM Algolympics. This is by team. (We usually compete in teams.) The other contest was the HP Code Wars. It was hosted by HP (Hewlett-Packard), the company. The way we’re teamed up depends on the circumstances. Most of the time we have the same team for most of our contests, but in some circumstances some members are not available, so teams are shuffled a bit. Sometimes, some members are ineligible, e.g. the HP Code Wars was only for graduating students. So instead of my usual team I was teamed up with other graduating students in the Programming Varisity. The members of the programming varsity are mostly Computer Science majors. I was the only Physics major there. At some point there were two physics majors there, but one of them shifted to Computer Science as well. He was also from my course, BS Applied Physics with BS Applied Computer Systems.

5. Do you have a blog?

I write for leisure but I don’t write regularly for any organizations or school publications. I have a blog on Blogspot, entitled Overcoming. I’ve been posting on this blog since 4th year high school. I’ve written over one hundred posts–mostly just personal reflections.

6. What can you say being in the last batch taking BS APS/ACS program? (Note: the program is still listed in the Registrar and may be offered again.)

I would say it is a little sad. I met freshmen who said this is their dream course. It would have been the course they would take if it was still offered. I believe it was mistake on the part of the Registrar or so I heard. Since last semester, when Dr. Guerrero talked to our batch, he mentioned something about making curriculum for something that could be a replacement for this course. I hope it would be similar or even better.

7. What are your plans after graduation?

One thing I really enjoyed doing apart from studying physics itself is tutoring physics. I have given a lot of tutorials for my block mates in Physics and Math that I have lost count. I even tutored other students in Ateneo who have asked for help in Physics and Math. The tutoring has helped me understand the topics even more and deepened my appreciation for them. Because of this experience in tutorials, I planned to someday return to Ateneo and teach Physics.

After Ateneo, I may take a vacation for a year before working here in RCS (Regional Climate Systems Program of Manila Observatory) where I did my thesis. I have talked to Dr. Gemma Narisma about this already. I shall work there for maybe one or two years to have good working experience. After this, I shall go to graduate school either in Europe or Japan because I want to specialize in Particle Physics. My dream is work with CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). I don’t know how many years I would spend there, but I plan to return to Ateneo to teach physics.

8. Any parting words?

Maybe I would say if anyone asked us for advice about how to being in a Physics major, I think the best I can say is to keep reading not just the lessons you are taking up, but anything that interests you within physics, because that’s how you keep yourself motivated. Practice makes perfect. You develop an intuition on how to solve or approach problems even if you have never seen the problem before.

Ateneo SOSE honors distinguished Physics students of 2017

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The School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University held a Recognition Program for Distinguished Students last 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m., at the Leong Hall Auditorium. According to Dean Evangeline P. Bautista, PhD, the program was made to recognize the students who truly personifies the spirit of magis in the diverse fields of academics, research, leadership, competition, and sports. She hoped that these group of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers would be successful in their fields, so that they can help the country appreciate the value of science and engineering. Jaren Ryan M. Rex, BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems and Magna Cum Laude, gave the response for Honor Students.

Below is the list of awardees from the Physics Department.

A. COMPETITION WINNERS

Paul Ivan B. Ceralde

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering
  • EAGE Student Awardee, European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE), Barcelona, Spain, September 2016
  • 3rd Place, Ateneo Team, national Collegiate Olympiad 2017, Materials Science and Engineering SUMMIT 2017, University of the Philippines

Jansen Keith L. Domoguen

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering
  • APS Distinguished Student Awardee, American Physical Society (APS), Salt Lake City, Utah, April 2016
  • 3rd Place, Ateneo Team, national Collegiate Olympiad 2017, Materials Science and Engineering SUMMIT 2017, University of the Philippines

Jaren Ryan Rex

  • BS Applied Physics/BS Applied Computer Systems
  • Champion, Team Mobiuchsia
  • UP ACP Algolympics 2017 competitive programming contest, 11 February 2017 at UP Diliman
  • 1st Place, Team Mobius Trips, HPE Code Wars programming competition, 27 February 2017, HP Enterprise office, Eton Centris

Socorro Margarita T. Rodrigo

  • BS Physics
  • Best Student Oral Presentation/Best Student Paper award, 13th Philippine Association of Marine Science (PAMS) National Symposium on Marine Science, General Santos City, 22-24 October 2015
  • 2nd Prize, Undergraduate Basic Research
  • SOSE Outstanding Student Research awards, 2015-2016
  • Youth Delegate, Philippine Delegation, 21st Conference of the Parties (COP2), Paris, France, 30 November to 12 December 2017

B. COUNCIL OF ORGANIZATIONS OF THE ATENEO (COA)

Jomel U. Maroma

  • BS Physics
  • Vice President for Organization Strategies and Research, Executive Board (2016-2017)

C. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CLUSTER (STC)

League of Physicists

Paulo Gonda

  • BS Physics
  • Tesla House Head (2016-2017)
  • AVP for Human Resources (2013-2014)

Joseph Thomas Miclat

  • BS Physics
  • VP for Internal Affairs (2015-2016)
  • VP for Finance (2013-2014)

Kira Lok

  • BS Physics
  • VP for Marketing (2013-2014)

James Hernandez

  • BS Physics
  • VP for Academic Affairs (2014-2016)
  • AVP for Organizational Development (2013-2014)

Jaren Ryan M. Rex

  • BS Applied Physics/BS Applied Computer Systems
  • AVP for Academic Affairs, Services Manager (2013-2014)

Carlex Jose II

  • BS Physics
  • AVP for Internal Special Projects (2013-2014)

Christabel Bucao

  • BS Physics
  • AVP for Academic Affairs, Project Overseer (2013-2014)

D. HONOR STUDENTS

Magna Cum Laude

Jaren Ryan M. Rex

  • BS Applied Physics/BS Applied Computer Systems

Cum Laude

Paul Ivan B. Ceralde

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering

Jomel U. Maroma

  • BS Physics

Jansen Keith L. Domoguen

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering

E. DEPARTMENTAL RECOGNITION

Department of Physics

Jaren Ryan M. Rex

  • BS Applied Physics

Prayer for the repose of the soul of the father of Dr. Gemma Narisma of the Ateneo Physics Department

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The Department of Physics of the School of Science and Engineering would like to express its condolences to the family of Andres Narisma, who succumbed to prolonged illness and joined our Creator this Wednesday morning, 1 June 2016.

Mr. Narisma is the father of Dr. Gemma Teresa T. Narisma, faculty member of the Department of Physics.

We will be grateful to the Ateneo community for your prayers for repose of Mr. Narisma’s soul and for the comfort of his remaining family.

Salamat.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”  (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)

Update: 3 June 2016

We have received word from the Department of Physics that Mr. Andres Narisma, the late father of Dr. Gemma Narisma, was cremated on 1 June 2016, the day he passed away.

The Narisma family will be observing a nine-day wake/vigil at their residence at 21 Jetta St., Village East, Cainta. Those who are interested
in paying their respects and sympathizing with the family may visit between 2:00 PM and 10:00 PM until the ninth day on June 9, with novena prayers and/or masses to be held every evening at 8:00 PM.