Chemistry PhD students Publish in Journal of Chromatography A

Heide R. Rabanes, a PhD student of the Department of Chemistry,  Ateneo de Manila University published another research work entitled Synergistic effect of field enhanced sample injection on micelle to solvent stacking in capillary electrophoresis in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Chromatography A (JCA).  The work was co-authored with Agnes T. Aranas, also an Ateneo PhD student who graduated last March 2012. The JCA is known for its stringent requirements and evaluation of original research and critical reviews on all aspects of fundamental and applied separation science. The techniques in her research work falls under electromigration techniques which includes electrophoresis. Electrophoresis is the process where a certain voltage is applied and this causes the movement of ions across a conductive medium where they migrate towards the electrode with an opposite charge.

Rabanes presented a two-step preconcentration or stacking strategy which addressed the sensitivity issue of capillary electrophoretic techniques employing ultraviolet detection. The research work was motivated by the fact that while capillary electrophoresis is a powerful analytical separation technique for small and large molecules, its sensitivity suffers when applied to real samples containing very minute concentrations. This work provided a new approach to overcome this shortcoming and reported a thousand-fold enhancement in sensitivity enhancement. The technique was successfully evaluated with antipsychotic drugs and applied to spiked urine sample after a simple extraction procedure.

Rabanes is a faculty member of Xavier University–Ateneo de Cagayan. She is currently on study leave to pursue her PhD studies. She is a recipient of a scholarship grant from the Commission on Higher Education and is presently being funded for a one-year Sandwich Program for a thesis research project in an overseas laboratory at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), Australia. She is under the supervision of Dr. Joselito P. Quirino, an Associate Professor of the School of Chemistry’s Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science and under Dr. Armando M. Guidote Jr. in the Ateneo de Manila University.

Glycerol-Crosslinked PMMA for Controlled-Release Application

A Polymer is a long thread-like chain formed by attachment of similar molecules. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) is one of the most widely produced polymer in the world today. It is formed by polymerizing or ‘attaching’ methylmethacrylate (MMA) and is used in household items, in paints and as a substitute for glass. PMMA is compatible with the human body so it has several biomedical applications also which includes dental bases, bone filler and intraocular lens.

Glycerol is a highly hydrophilic or ‘water-loving’ species, a byproduct obtained from the soap making process and from the biofuel industry. It is also generated by hydrolysis of coconut oil. It mainly finds its application as a sweetening agent, stabilizer in food industries and humectants in cosmetic formulations.

As part of our project we cross-linked or ‘tied up’ PMMA chains while synthesizing it using glycerol to form a 3D polymer network to encapsulate N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), a mosquito repellant. The networks were reduced to nano size capsules prior to DEET encapsulation.  When the polymer swelled in a solvent, DEET entered the porous network of the polymer and got captured. They were released slowly when the network got squeezed by changing the solvent. Instead of using chemicals to crosslink glycerol and PMMA, the group used commercially available benign enzymes as ‘biocatalyst’ to speed up the reaction and to eliminate the chance of inducing toxicity from a chemical catalyst.  The concept of encapsulation and release of DEET from PMMA network is schematically represented as following:

Encapsulation and Release of DEET from the polymeric network of PMMA formed by crosslinking PMMA with glycerol

Encapsulation and Release of DEET from the polymeric network of PMMA formed by crosslinking PMMA with glycerol

DEET is one of the most effective mosquito repellent available in the market and is available in the form of lotions, creams, gels and aerosol spray. However, these formulations utilize DEET inefficiently. Most of the DEET is lost within a few hours of application due to perspiration, rub off and other activities.  To go beyond six hours the concentration of DEET needs to be increased or the repellent needs to be reapplied.With the use of our formulation where DEET remains encapsulated inside the polymeric network, slow and controlled release of DEET was observed beyond 10h. The study establishes that DEET encapsulated inside the polymeric network of PMMA gets released at a controlled rate for prolonged period and can be further studied for the development of a long lasting mosquito repellant formulation.

A copy of the article is available online at 10.1016/j.msec.2012.06.001.

SOSE-CH-035Dr. Soma Chakraborty is currently an Associate Professor at the Chemistry Department of Ateneo de Manila University. She finished her PhD in Polymer Chemistry at the Polytechnic University of New York. Her research interests include biocatalytic synthesis, modification of organic and macromolecules, and polymeric vehicles as controlled release system.

ICP-SOMIN Gives Excellence in Chemistry Awards to Top Students

The Integrated Chemists of the Philippines Southern Mindanao Chapter (ICP-SOMIN) gave Excellence in Chemistry Year 2013 Awards to outstanding high school students last 16 February 2013 at the Ateneo de Davao University.  The following are the awardees:

  1. Lilibeth Diane Yu* – Davao Christian High School Academy
  2. Carlo Antonio Nazareno* – Colegio de San Ignacio
  3. Keanu Polo Bonocan – Philippine Science High School
  4. Earl Christian Te – Ateneo de Davao University
  5. Paul Dave Panzo – Sta. Ana National High School
  6. Dewy Rose Escueta – Davao Central High School
  7. Kent Raven Olario – University of Immaculate Conception
  8. Edward Jan Bacalso – Davao City Special National High School
  9. Victor Patrick Agdasiw – Baguio National High School
  10. Zuhair Ali – Brokenshire Science High School
  11. Lara Francess Rañises – Philippine Women’s College of Davao

High schools from the region submitted one nominee each for the award.  The criteria consisted of the average grade in Chemistry (60%), participation in Chemistry-related contests, quiz bees, science quests and other related contests (30%), and narrative report of the character and excellence as exemplified by the student to be attested by a Chemistry Teacher (10%).

The event was held back-to-back with the National Children’s  On-the-Spot Poster Making Contest.  Support for the events were given by Chemrez Technologies, Dow Chemical Company, Boysen, Shell, Perkin-Elmer and C&E Publishing.

Awardee (center,Carlo Antonio Nazareno of Colegio de Ignacio) with the ICP SoMin Board of Directors  and ADDU Chemistry Department chair

Awardee (center,Carlo Antonio Nazareno of Colegio de Ignacio) with the ICP SoMin Board of Directors
and ADDU Chemistry Department chair


Awardee (center, Keanu Polo Bonocan of Philippine Science High School) with the ICP SoMin Board of Directors
and ADDU Chemistry Department chair


The 11 Excellence in Chemistry Awardees for 2013 with the ICP SoMin Board of Directors and ADDU Chemistry Department chair

Speech of Dr. Coke Montaño in 2012 PRC Licensure Exams Oath-Taking

Hon.. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., former senator; Commissioner Alfredo Po of PRC;; Dr. Adoracion P. Resureccion (Chairman, Board of Chemistry); Dr. Soledad S. Castañeda (Member, Board of Chemistry); Academician Dr. Fabian Dayrit and other officers of the ICP,  KKP and PACT; our honored guests; fellow chemists and mentors; ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, let me congratulate you for your achievement of passing the Chemistry Board Examinations. This feat is indeed a life’s milestone. Let me also greet your individual families for the moral, spiritual, and material support, and also your mentors who molded you to become achievers.  Passing the board exams is a major step in the pursuit towards our individual goals.

I am happy and honored for being given a chance to talk to you and for having this rare opportunity of establishing an intimate relation with each one of you in the audience. The chemists should understand what I am referring to. For the non-chemists: the molecules that I inhale and exhale goes to the air in the room, which in turn gets inhaled by each one of you. Isn’t that intimacy?

My talk is short, as the late Carlos P. Romulo likened a short speech to a bikini – scanty but enough to cover the vital parts.

I am here to talk to those of you who are planning to go into the academic track. In the academe, teaching and research are equally important. Preferably, one must get a graduate degree: MS, Ph.D., and preferably, a Post Doc. Of course , there are growing pains.

When you get into the academic track, you become a part of the solution in terms of science and technology. Data taken in 2008 from the World Bank reveals that Singapore has 5,900 researchers per one million members of the population; Japan has 5,400, Thailand has 600, and the Philippines has 78. Kawawa ang Pilipinas.!

After graduate training ,you may also take the other tracks of the Chemistry profession such chemists in industry , business and in government.

On your way towards obtaining a Ph.D., there will be several distractions. They may be likened to flowers along the way – you may tend to pick them up, but be sure that you don’t get lost while pursuing the path towards your goals. Many students take consultancies and other jobs on the side while in graduate school. However, a number of these students did not finish their degrees.

Staying in this country or returning after training to eventually work in this country: we consider these as acts of heroism. Yes, it is true that the OFWs are keeping our economics up. However, we must also remember that Philippine education prepares us for life either locally or globally. With Filipinos in the sciences, in chemistry, and in other professions, we will be able to uplift our country’s economy, literacy, and well being.

Being a teacher in this country is like taking a vow of poverty. Academics may not be financially rewarding compared being in the industry and other business, but the rewards are nevertheless far-reaching and immeasurable.

Meanwhile, in conducting research, one must be careful with the experiment design so as not to commit errors. It is a good practice to examine results as a whole. More importantly, you must publish your results. Your research results give credibility to your teaching and work. In my experience, I have come to know that it is best to work on science and technology-related problems of our country. When you publish in journals with high impact factors, you can be immortalized in chemical abstracts and international databases. Also, sometimes, you can get mileage if you work with members of a different specialization or if you use chemistry in answering research questions under the other fields of science.

 To cite examples, many of the renowned Filipino chemists owe their claim to fame to their work on Philippine problems: NS Lourdes J. Cruz on conus, NS Banzon on coconut, Prof Dayrit on coconut oil and lagundi, NS  Ben Juliano on  rice, NS Clara Lim Sylianco on mutagenicity studies, Dr. Mae Mendoza on the biochemistry of Philippine fruits… the list goes on. My instant fame with the Seaweed Industry locally and international was because, I wrote about the properties of the PNG carrageenan a commodity which, during that time, is being produced only by the Philippines.

On a different note, in order to prevent occurrence of dishonesty in science, it is best that you practice the guide outlined in the Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Filipino Scientists by the National Academy of Science and Technology. You might also want to read the article “On Being a Scientist” by the National Academy of Science of US.

To end, I’d like to leave everyone of you with these pieces of advice:

Vladimir Prelog (23 July 1906 – 7January 1998) was the 1975 Nobel chemistry Prize winner for his work on making the absolute rule on handedness of the molecule. Together with Cahn and Ingold they devised the CIP sequence rules. He said:

“The world is chiral and clinical, enjoy the symmetry wherever you find it.”

Also, perhaps the most important advice he gave during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the Rectus and Sinister

“If you want to be happy for an hour, buy a bottle of wine,
If you want to be happy for a week, roast (slaughter) a pig,
If you want to be happy for a year, get married.
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, love or enjoy your work.”

Finally, before I leave the stage, here is a story I usually tell my Natural Science I (Chemistry Portion) class:

One sunny day, Helium and Hydrogen atoms went strolling in the park. Hydrogen atom said “I lost an electron”.
Helium inquired, “Are you sure?”
Hydrogen replied “Yes, I am positive.”

Enjoy your celebrations and the tsug tsug music tonight.


Thank you.

International Conference on Natural Products 2013

For the year 2013, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) has been given the honour to host the International Conference on Natural Products 2013 (ICNP 2013), which will be held on 4-6 March 2013 in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. On behalf of Faculty of Applied Sciences, and Atta-ur-Rahman Research Institute for Natural Product Discovery, Universiti Teknologi
MARA together with Malaysian Natural Products Society (MNPS), it gives us great pleasure to invite you and your colleagues to participate in ICNP2013 which is an annual event of MNPS.

The theme of the ICNP2013 is Science and Nature with the following relevant research topics:

  • Ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology of medicinal plants
  • Advances in spectroscopy for structure identification of natural product
  • Chromatography and separation science
  • Discovery of lead compounds for drug development
  • Synthesis of bio-active molecules
  • Computational and structure-function studies
  • Biological activities, pharmacology and toxicology of natural products
  • Pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry
  • Analysis and development of herbal products
  • New technology platforms in natural product research
  • Microbial metabolites as a new source of pharmaceuticals

This conference will be attended by most natural product scientists fromall over Malaysia as well as many other countries. Please visit the conference website for more information: