Dr. Nelson Ramirez Villarante is currently a full-time professor in the Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics at the College of Arts and Sciences. He began his research training during his undergraduate degree in chemistry, extracting natural products from various plants and assessing their antimicrobial properties. After completing his undergraduate program at Silliman University, he decided to stay in the academe and share his knowledge and skills with students through teaching and research. As a result of his outstanding research on the phytochemical components of plant extracts, he was chosen as one of the five finalists in the ASEAN Talent Search for Young Scientists in 1988. His research skills and training have expanded further after he decided to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of the Philippines in Diliman and had the opportunity—as an exchange student—to accomplish his dissertation on the biodegradation of chlorinated compounds at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology in the United States of America. Furthermore, his passion for research and his excellent academic record and research training landed him a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan where he specialized both in the synthesis of organic chemical compounds and in photochemistry. His 30 years in the University of the Philippines Manila has transformed him into not only an excellent adviser and professor, but also into a dedicated and top-notch researcher. Despite the limited resources, equipment, and infrastructure for doing research, Dr. Villarante persisted, persevered, and pressed on with his passion and life-long goal of performing relevant and transformative chemical research. His dedication to research and his determination to help humanity are reflected in his body of research work, which includes the synthesis of drugs, synthesis of green solvents such as Ionic Liquids and Deep Eutectic Solvents, alternative energy from biowaste materials, and waste management. Because of his dedication to research, he was inducted as a regular member of the National Research Council of the Philippines, our country’s foremost and most prestigious scientific organization. He also was hired as a technical consultant to SBS Philippines Corporation, one of the largest chemical distribution companies in the country. He is a regular member of the DOST-PCIEERD proposal technical review panel; reviewing high-budgeted proposals which range from 5-30 million pesos. Occasionally, he is invited as a reviewer of NIH proposals as well. Due to his expertise in environmental research and organic synthesis, he was invited as an editorial board member in an ISI journal and as a reviewer in various scientific publications, such as the Oriental Journal of Chemistry, Philippine Journal of Science, Manila Science Journal, Philippine Journal of Health Research and Development, and Material Science India.
Dr. Villarante earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Notably, he has been a consistent academic scholar for two years during his doctoral program. Dr. Villarante, who came from a humble beginning, was a recipient of numerous scholarships and awards — the Department of Science and Technology-Engineering and Science Education Program Scholarship (DOST-ESEP), Benedicto Professorial Chair Award, Centennial Faculty Grant Award for Research, One UP Professorial Chair Award, and International Publication Awards.
Despite the financially rewarding job opportunities in the industry and in the business sectors, Dr. Villarante has decided to stay in the academe and has been actively doing several research collaborations. His interest in the removal of heavy metals, dyes, and chlorinated compounds from laboratory and hospital wastewater samples using activated carbon from biowaste materials, utilization of green solvents in the synthesis of drugs, and synthesis of biofuel from feedstocks resulted in publications in ISI/Scopus journals. His research work also has been accepted for presentation in local and international conferences. Because of his dedication to research, Dr. Villarante is recognized as University Scientist of the University of the Philippines.
That Dr. Villarante’s undergraduate, doctoral, and postdoctoral studies have equipped him with a formidable background in fundamental and applied research and that—as evidenced by his great body of scientific work—he employed his knowledge and skills as a researcher to the fullest extent possible are beyond question.
Thus, for his expertise in the field of pollution control, energy sustainability, and drug synthesis; for his awareness of both his social and environmental responsibilities as a researcher; for his productive scientific outputs and sterling research experiences; and most of all, for his honesty, integrity, and steadfast and unrelenting dedication and passion for quality research, it is with great pride and honor to present Dr. Nelson R. Villarante as the recipient of this year’s PFCS Outstanding Achievement Award in Chemical Research.