By Mark Adam Ferry
Jose Mario M. Diaz is appointed chair of the Ateneo de Manila chemistry department, a diverse academic unit dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in research and teaching. Diaz pleased and excited on this opportunity, is looking forward to continue Ateneo’s research tradition and to further the conversation on issues germane to teaching and research.
“Faculty staff in foreign universities has less teaching hour responsibilities, and more time to do research.” Diaz, lamented. Managing teaching and research on top of a boat load of paperwork, limited research materials and equipment seemed to be on a collision course to his targeted goals –but nothing that an engineer cannot handgrip.
Diaz completed his master’s degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of the Philippines (Diliman) and his doctorate degree in Materials Engineering from Tokyo University. His core focus areas on material science include research on plasma processing and composite. “We utilize the fourth state of matter in modifying surfaces of materials to make new materials”. An example is the enhancement of polymer-based surfaces using plasma for better surface adhesion. At present, Diaz is looking at a new direction into composites by utilizing various fibers as reinforcement. For instance, naturally-procured fibers derived from pineapple leaves were modified to have flame-retardant properties. He is collaborating with Dr. Erwin Enriquez in a PICARI (Philippines-California Advanced Research Institute) research project on modifying raw materials via plasma processing in sensitized photovoltaic cells. “At various fabrication stages of the cells, we are trying to include plasma processing to clean surfaces and to improve performance,” Diaz added.
The chemistry department has clearly begun bracing the expected difficulties and challenges that lies ahead from the K-12 implementation. “I hope to see a smoother transition from secondary to tertiary education, but I expect it’s going to be turbulent. We’ll see mismatches with the expectations of the tertiary level with what the secondary education is producing.” Diaz added.
Like most newbie administrators, he is optimistic to see changes in the educational system including a smoother transition from the academe to the industry and a clearer career paths for chemistry majors. Diaz is pleased that Ateneo has a mechanism to support financially, faculty who are just starting to setup their research. He is optimistic to see more faculty involved in research and less on teaching or administrative work.
On occasions when his conscious and subconscious mind is not occupied with the fourth state of matter, Diaz loves being a plain dad and spends time with his wife and three kids.