Academic experts seek to plug PH disaster response gaps

PHILIPPINES – The 2022 World Risk Report warned that, out of 193 countries, the Philippines has the greatest risk, exposure, vulnerability, and susceptibility to disasters, further aggravated by a deep lack of coping and adaptive capacities.

However, timely to the release of the Report, the University of the Philippines recently conferred the UP Centennial Professorial Chair and Faculty Grant on 98 UPD-CS faculty members from the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology and the National Institute of Geological Sciences, as well as from the National Institute of Physics, Institute of Biology, Institute of Chemistry, Marine Science Institute, Institute of Mathematics, and National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

The conferment also came just days ahead of the UN-declared International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction last October 13.

“The Centennial Grant is a welcome acknowledgement of, and support for, the hard work that UP’s scientists and researchers put into their respective fields. It helps us to focus on the tasks at hand so that we can bring the science to where it is most needed,” said UPD-CS Dean Giovanni Tapang.

“There are a lot of research studies to understand the physical, social, and economic components of risk. Our main role as scientists is to communicate and disseminate information on hazards and their impacts, hoping these will guide efforts in disaster response,” added Centennial Grant awardee Dr. Noelynna Ramos, a professor of Geomorphology and Geohazards at the National Institute of Geological Sciences and the head researcher of the Geomorphology and Active Tectonics Research Laboratory.

“Much of the research we undertake is very meticulous and painstaking. For outside observers, they may not seem immediately important or even necessary. But patient persistence pays off, because we are eventually able to find underlying patterns that enable us to come up with practical, real-world solutions,” explained Centennial Grantee and atmospheric physics expert Dr. Gerry Bagtasa. “There is much that can and should be done in terms of disaster response in the country, and I’m thankful that UP and the College of Science understand this and enable us to help address these.”

The Centennial Grants are awarded annually to UP faculty members in recognition of their outstanding performance in the areas of teaching; research or creative work; and public service. In their various capacities, the Grantees’ research is helping improve our understanding of the natural world and, more specifically, the nature of natural disasters and how best to respond to them.