Alumanda M. Dela Rosa, Ph.D.
Dr. Alumanda M. Dela Rosa joined the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), presently the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) in September 1968 after graduation from the College of the Holy Spirit with a B.S. in Chemistry. She rose from the ranks, starting as a Nuclear Research Assistant, a Nuclear Research Specialist, Division Chief, Career Scientist IV, and Director IV of the PNRI. Her PhD dissertation at the University of Hawaii which started her scientific career dealt with the effects of high energy radiation on the transport systems of biological membranes, one of the few studies then on the radiation effects in biomembranes.
Upon her return to the Philippines in 1977 after her Ph.D. programme, she applied her knowledge and skills in radiation chemistry to the development of products/processes from indigenous natural polymers using radiation. Her research interest also covers environmental chemistry and studied coastal pollution due to heavy metals and harmful algal blooms. She has published/presented 45 papers and trained young scientists. Her scientific work and contribution to the pool of knowledge was recognized by the Scientific Career Council with her conferment of the rank of Career Scientist IV in 1991. Her experience and expertise in scientific research prepared her to work for the interest of the PNRI scientists.
When she was appointed Director IV in 2001, she brought into the office the aspirations and concerns of the scientists about 20% of whom are chemists. Considering that the outputs of the scientists are central to the success of a scientific organization such as the PNRI, it is to the interest of the organization that an enabling environment conducive for research be felt by the scientists.
As PNRI Director, Dr. Dela Rosa has worked relentlessly with dedication and perseverance to provide such enabling environment and challenge the PNRI scientists to higher levels of excellence and pursue new fields of endeavour. She has worked for a more active participation of the Institute in the R & D, technology transfer, and normative activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) coupled with strategic planning in using the IAEA technical cooperation fund to establish/upgrade nuclear and radiation facilities , and develop new competencies in PNRI and its collaborators. This initiative has opened up greater opportunities to more PNRI researchers and regulatory staff in developing their areas of specialization and cultivating regional and international linkages with their peers . Her stewardship of the PNRI has gained greater external funds for the Institute from multilateral, regional, and bilateral cooperation as well as from local GIA funds and contract research activities.
Thus, new facilities have been set up and existing laboratories have been upgraded within the PNRI Compound. The new facilities include the Environmental Isotope Center aimed to enhance the country’s capability to improve the understanding of water resources for judicious development, management and protection, for tracing of environmental pollutants ; the Radioisotope Laboratory for the production of Tc-99m generators which can bring down the cost of nuclear medicine procedures; the Nuclear Response Support Center which serves as the planning and operating center in case of nuclear radiological emergency as in the case of the Fukushima nuclear accident; the Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Laboratory which supports the training courses on NDT techniques being availed of by OFWs; and a new electron beam facility presently being constructed. The upgraded facilities include the Multipurpose Irradiation Facility which has been upgraded from a pilot-scale to a semi-commercial facility resulting in a 4x increase in throughput and an increase in income from about P500T to P 4.0 million; the ARC building which houses laboratories for research in chemistry, physics, biology, and health physics; five modular facilities for agricultural, industrial, and biomedical research; trenches for the safe and secure storage of radioactive waste, the Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory which ensures the accurate measurement from nuclear equipment, and the internet connectivity and LAN ensuring quality communication within the Institute, and with national and with international collaborators.
Her efforts have paid off . The researchers have responded to the challenge reaping prestige for the Institute and the country. The PNRI became one of the first six Collaborating Centers of the IAEA in 2005, the PNRI being recognized in the use of nuclear techniques to study harmful algal blooms (HABs). The PNRI model has been replicated in other parts of the world (e.g. Latin America and Africa) with similar HAB concerns. The IAEA has extended PNRI’s status as a Collaborating Center in 2010. The IAEA has also recognized the work of PNRI on water resource management , and has designated the Philippines , through the PNRI, as one of the three pilot countries to implement the Water Resources Availability Enhancement Project or the I-WAVE Project. The PNRI has compiled a 15-year comprehensive set of data on the status of air quality in Metro Manila including pollutant source identification and apportionment. The data have been used by the DENR/EMB in its Annual Air Quality Report as required by the Clean Air Act and in setting up guidelines and standards for air quality. Presently, the Philippines participates in about 40 IAEA-funded regional projects. PNRI scientists lead about 85% of the projects, and the remaining 15%, by its collaborators. Dr. Dela Rosa nominates, on the average, 50 foreign fellowships (OJT, training courses, meetings, conferences, scientific visits) annually for PNRI staff, providing opportunity for the senior and junior scientists to train, interact with other scientists in their fields of specialization. She has extended the same opportunity and support to scientists of collaborating organizations, and nominates , on the average, 25 fellowships for PNRI collaborators.
With her dedication and perseverance, this enabling environment sustains the commitment and enthusiasm of scientists to excel for PNRI and country. Dr. Dela Rosa’s efforts resulted in significant R & D results, the recognition of PNRI as a nuclear research organization and the national competent authority on nuclear matters, the recognition of the PNRI scientists by their peers, and the recognition of Dr. Dela Rosa herself in the field of nuclear science and technology and in international cooperation.
Dr. Dela Rosa worked for the Filipino chemists as Member of the Board of Chemistry from 1991- 1997, and as Chair of the Board of Chemistry from 1997-2003. During her incumbency in the Board, she maintained the integrity of the board examinations, and worked with the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP) for the passage of the revised Chemistry Law. Dr. Dela Rosa is a member of the Technical Advisory Group on Laboratory Recognition (TAG-LR) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from 1998 to the present. She has advocated for the leading role of the chemist in the chemical laboratory. Thus, any environmental laboratory aspiring for recognition by the DENR is now required to have a registered chemist in the laboratory.
Dr. Dela Rosa has worked to become what she is now: a chemist working for the interest and welfare of chemists and other scientists within her area of responsibility, a dedicated member of the Philippine bureaucracy , and a true public servant rendering selfless service to Filipinos and bringing honor and pride to the nation.