Pres. Agrupis cited as NAST outstanding science administrator

By Daniel P. Tapaoan, Jr. 


“Making science work for the people.”


This has been the mantra of University President Shirley C. Agrupis as she passionately executes research and development (R&D) programs at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) as a way of uplifting communities. 


Never did she imagine that such selfless and innovative effort has brought her into the limelight, making her a recipient of the prestigious Outstanding Science Administrator Award (OSAA) – the Dioscoro L. Umali Medal – from the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL). 


Said award is given to recognize science and technology (S&T) administrators who have made significant contributions to R&D through effective management and implementation of plans and programs. 


As an awardee, she received the medal, plaque, and a cash prize of Php 200,000 during the virtual opening ceremonies of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration today, November 22. 


She was nominated by Dr. Epifania O. Agustin, program leader of the Ilocos Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (ILAARRDEC), attesting her exemplary contributions as a science leader. 


Flagship R&D projects

While serving as MMSU president for her second term, she continues to endeavor in R&D activities as a hands-on researcher and a leader of various projects. 


Her three flagship R&D projects include the National Bioenergy Research and Extension for Sustainable Development (NBioERESD) focusing on nipa sap as feedstock for bioethanol production; the Tuklas Lunas Development Center’s (TLDC) research on anti-inflammatory herbal products from indigenous plants; and on Black Garlic (BG) research. 


These projects aim to promote and innovate on locally-available and sustainable energy sources; produce accessible and affordable medicines using indigenous plants; and enhance the dwindling garlic industry through value-adding black garlic products, respectively.


Through her breakthrough bioethanol research outputs and her relentless efforts in developing and submitting proposals to funding agencies, the NBioERESD has metamorphosed into a multi-million-peso project. It has also strongly partnered with other academic institutions, local governments, grassroot communities, and the industry. 


She has also conceptualized and pursued the creation of the National Bioenergy Research and Innovation Center (NBERIC) at MMSU, a leading national R&D institution in support of the Biofuel Act of 2006. 


Meanwhile, through her renewed direction and commitment, she has sustained the valuable projects of the MMSU-TLDC. It received a funding support from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) which further empowered research teams and established a state-of-the-art laboratory. 


With this, the MMSU-TLDC was able to forge a research collaboration agreement with the Disease Molecular Biology and Epigenetics Laboratory (DMBEL) of UP Diliman, and will soon partner with the Pascual Laboratory, Inc., one of the best pharmaceutical companies in the Philippines to carry-out herbal drug development using indigenous plants. 


Moreover, her engagement in Black Garlic (BG) research has become instrumental in the forging of partnerships between MMSU, Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, and Takara, Inc., one of the biggest garlic companies in Japan, to strengthen the garlic industry in Ilocos Norte. This project also got funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).


A pioneer in the field, Dr. Agrupis pursues BG research with the goal of strengthening the garlic industry in Ilocs Norte through garlic value adding product. Known for its higher nutritive and curative values, BG is produced through Mallard reaction under controlled temperature and humidity in the processing machine. Unlike those found in well-published BG protocols, she innovatively and creatively used conventional convection oven without moisture supply in the system.


Recognized as another breakthrough research product, BG was featured in different events, including the World Food Expo at the World Trade Center in Manila; 3rd World Black Garlic Summit in Japan; and in local farmer’s forums and festivals. Dr. Agrupis also delivered scientific lectures on Ilocos Norte black garlic in national and international conferences to raise awareness and generate more R&D activities.


The successful BG research has also contributed to the establishment of the Garlic and Other Agri-food Condiments R&D Center, one of MMSU’s Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICERs) under the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sector.


Managerial competence 

Moreover, Dr. Agrupis has also initiated approaches to integrate various mandates of the university toward improved service delivery for all stakeholders, with her vision to make MMSU a Philippine premier university by 2028. 


She also reorganized and consolidated research projects and activities into research centers for cohesive and more focused planning, implementation, and monitoring, thereby ensuring sustainability and utilization of research outputs.


Under her leadership, the MMSU steered itself toward international recognition by obtaining the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) 3 Stars rating and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2015 certification. Also, the university achieved the Level III Institutional Accreditation by the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP); passed the Institutional Sustainability Assessment by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED); and maintained its status as Level IV State University.


Indeed, these noteworthy accomplishments speak of Dr. Agrupis’ exemplary academic and research leadership, making her a truly outstanding science administrator in the country. (StratCom)