“The future is uncertain, but we can always prepare by equipping ourselves of the fundamentals; science and technology are considered fundamentals.” – Dr. Editha C. Jose

The Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics (IMSP) began its weeklong celebration of its 38th anniversary as one of the six National Center of Excellence (NCOE) in the Basic Sciences in the country with a two-part symposium on March 22, 2021. 

The OIC Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Margus Piñol, welcomed speakers and participants and recounted the history of the institute from its recognition as NCOE in 1983. Dr. Editha Jose, director of the institute, also gave an overview of the symposium and expressed her pride in IMSP’s growth through the years.  

With the theme “Mathematics in the Midst of Pandemic” for the morning session, Dr. Jomar Rabajante, the dean of the Graduate School and a Professor from UPLB, started the series of talks. He discussed the mathematical model they established for dengue risk analysis during the era of COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized that we should not forget other diseases even this time. The second speaker is an Associate Professor and the Vice Dean (Research) at Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore. Dr. Alex Cook first presented different mathematical models that estimated the likelihood of human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a simulated Singaporean population. He then discussed mathematical models to inform policy response of their national government to COVID-19, such as mandatory use of masks, digital contact tracing, use of temporary structures as isolation facilities, isolation measures, etc., which helped substantially reduce the number of infections. For the third talk, Prof. Christian Alvin Buhat, an Assistant Professor from IMSP, discussed his research about optimal allocation of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines. This study was helpful for policymakers in determining vaccine distribution for a resource-constrained community, which was relevant today in the country. The last speaker for the morning part of the symposium was Prof. Monica Torres. She is an Assistant Professor and the UPLB Biomathematics Research Cluster Head. They formulated a mathematical model on the transmission dynamics of COVID-19 between frontliners (healthcare workers, customer service and retail personnel, food service crews and transport or delivery workers) and the public. Their study showed both groups should be protected against the disease, otherwise, we would not be able to control the spread of the virus. 

The afternoon session of the symposium started with opening remarks of Dr. Jomar Rabajante. This was followed by Dr. Ivy Colambo, the coordinator for research of the institute, in which she gave an overview on the second half of the program with the theme “Symposium on the Synchrotron Radiation and its Application”. 

Prof. Hsiung Chou, from the Department of Physics, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan, first talked about the doping effect of transition metal ions in spinel manganites. His research revealed that neutron scattering resulted in a short-range magnetic correlation that was onset at around 170K, above the TN and the doping effect suppressed the magnetic phase below TN. Next, Dr. Nirawat Thammajak, a lecturer from Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand, presented their project which aimed to apply the x-ray Absorption Spectroscopy technique for elucidating coloring mechanisms in freshwater cultured pearls resulted from gamma-irradiation and thermal treatment. They found out that both treatments could oxidize Mn (II) to a higher oxidation state. The third speaker was Dr. Maria C. Asensio. She is a research staff at the Institute of Material Science of Madrid and co-founder of the Research Associate Unit: MATINÉE. She recently conceived an innovative chemical and electronic imaging spectroscopic technique combining angle-resolved photoemission and nano- and microscopy, named “nanoARPES.”. In her presentation, she introduced a new synchrotron radiation nano-probes for electronic and chemical imaging of two-dimensional material beyond graphene. The next speaker, Dr. Naoki Yamamoto, has been conducting research on disease-related proteins such as diabetes, leukemia, and Alzheimer’s disease using biochemical and biophysical techniques at Kobe University, Japan. He presented the structural development of the prefibrillar intermediates of an insulin-derived peptide, insulin B chain, which was monitored by small-angle X-ray scattering combined with dynamic light scattering and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Lastly, Prof. Hidezaku Okamura, from Tokushima University, Japan, briefly discussed the characteristics of infrared synchrotron radiation (IR-SR) and some examples of reported results using infrared synchrotron radiation (IR-SR). He proceeded to present their IR studies at high pressure up to 20 GPa using DAC and IR-SR at the IR beamline of SPring-8 facility in Japan.

The symposium ended with Dr. Jose thanking the participants and the plenary speakers. She also expressed her gratitude towards the organizing committee, which was headed by Dr. Marvin Herrera, and the UPLB ITC for technical support.

(JCC Duero)