The UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR)

CFNR seminar series features international speakers in its inaugural

The University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources (UPLB CFNR), in collaboration with the Department of Forest Biological Sciences (DFBS) and the Office of the Coordinator for Research, Extension and Linkages (OCREL), inaugurated its CFNR Seminar Series on 27 February 2024 at the Nicolas P. Lansigan Auditorium. A tapestry of fun-filled research, adventure and thought-provoking discourse was shared by the two international speakers.

Ms. Kang Hyewon, a student from Chungnam National University, kicked off the seminal event by sharing her immersive five-week academic experiences in botany at the esteemed UPLB CFNR. Her presentation, titled “K-Adventures: A Journey of Learning, Discovery, and Fun at the DFBS,” unveiled an enriching narrative on field botany, hands-on experimentation, and cultural assimilation.

Ms. Kang provided a comprehensive account of her experience with plant microscopy, highlighting her observations on the petiole anatomy of Thunbergia grandiflora, offering insights into its invasive potential, and contributing to our broader comprehension of its ecological impact.

She spent her succeeding weeks immersing on a hands-on study on the litter decomposition experiment in the MMFR where they established a 5m x 20m litter plot and collected leaf samples. This provided Ms. Kang with firsthand insights into the role played by microorganisms in breaking down organic matter contributing to ecosystem sustainability.  Further, Ms. Kang conducted a laboratory analysis on Thunbergia grandiflora‘s leaf and stem litter decomposition at the MMFR. Simultaneously, she explored the physiological aspects of Polyscias nodosa in the UPLB mechanized nursery, using a handheld leaf porometer and SPAD chlorophyll meter to measure pore conductivity and chlorophyll levels. This dual approach showed her proficiency in both field and laboratory techniques, offering insights into the dynamics of botanical ecosystems.

Her academic adventures extended to an exploration of both the cultural and natural landscapes of the Philippines. Her presentation detailed her ventures into Mount Makiling, the Makiling Botanic Garden, and the Pagsanjan Falls. Beyond these, Ms. Kang engaged in the UPLB Feb Fair, enjoying cultural festivities. Her participation in English and scientific paper writing tutorials also highlighted the diverse facets of her cross-cultural immersion. Lastly, a distinctive aspect of Ms. Kang Hyewon’s discourse centered on the climatic disparities between the Philippines and South Korea. Through a comparative analysis, she articulated the differences in forest types depending on seasonal variations. Contrasting the tropical forests of the Philippines with the temperate forests in Korea, Ms. Kang Hyewon underscored the diverse ecological dynamics shaped by climate, elevating the discourse to a global perspective.

Dr. Chris Thorogood, deputy director and head of science at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, and a visiting professor at CFNR, returned for the third time to UPLB to share his expertise. With a research focus spanning biomimetics and evolutionary biology, Dr. Thorogood’s expeditions around the globe in pursuit of botanical discoveries illuminate the dynamic field of field botany.

In his engaging lecture, Dr. Thorogood showcased the myriad opportunities inherent in a career in botany. He emphasized the global community of botanists and the significance of collaborative research initiatives. Drawing from his experiences exploring the world’s flora, including encounters with remarkable giant flowers, Dr. Thorogood underscored the excitement and fulfillment inherent in botanical exploration.

Dr. Thorogood also highlighted his collaborations with esteemed Southeast Asian botanists, including Prof. Pastor L. Malabrigo, Jr., and For. Adriane B. Tobias from DFBS, CFNR-UPLB, illustrating the importance of cross-cultural partnerships in botanical research.

Throughout the seminar, students actively engaged with Ms. Kang and Dr. Thorogood, posing insightful questions during the Q&A session. Notably, Dr. Thorogood’s talents extend beyond scientific research, as evidenced by his proficiency in botanical illustration, showcased in his publications catering to diverse audiences. (Adriane B. Tobias and Louise Andrea B. Quidayan)

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