Balik Scientist paves way for collaborative seaweed R&D

 Dr. Michael Y. Roleda, a Balik Scientist specializing on seaweed and algal studies, initiated a  collaborative research and development activity on seaweed research between the University of  the Philippines – Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) and the University of Eastern Philippines  (UEP) in Catarman, Northern Samar. To initiate the collaborative research, Roleda conducted a  seminar titled, “Chimeras and Chameleons: Hybrids and plasticity in color expression in the  carrageenophytes Kappaphycus alvarezii” on March 6-7, 2017.


 Roleda is a Research Scientist of the Bioforsk - Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research in  BodØ, Norway. His research expertise and activities include marine botany and phycology,  reproduction biology, organismal biology, carbon and nitrogen physiology, stress and  ecophysiology, photochemistry, photobiology, algal fuels, and other seaweed/algae related  studies. Roleda is a native of Calbayog City, Western Samar.

During the seminar, Roleda explained the morphological and phenotypical characteristics of the seaweed Kappaphycus and its complex reproduction cycle. He also discussed some factors that could affect the seaweed’s color expression (hybridism and chimerism). Since these physical characteristics are naturally expressed by seaweeds in their natural habitat, Roleda wanted UP-MSI, his host institution, to team-up with UEP on this venture as Samar is abundant in wild species of Kappaphycus alvarezii and other carrageenan-producing seaweed species.

Together with Dr. Ronelie C. Salvador, UEP Seaweed Researcher and Joelyn Soldevilla-Biag, Executive Director of Sentro ha Pagpauswag ha Panginabuhi, Inc. (SPPI), a non-government organization, Roleda visited the seaweed farmers in Biri Island and Lavezares, Northern Samar and conducted surveys on seaweed production practices being applied by farmers as well as farmers’ position on introduction of new seaweed planting materials. The said survey will be used in identifying project sites for pilot testing.

SPPI has an ongoing partnership with UEP in providing technical knowledge in systematic seaweed production. The organization also facilitates the marketing of the dried seaweeds produced by the farmers.

“We support such research activities and collaborations which will further strengthen UEP’s capabilities in research and extension,” said the UEP President, Dr. Rolando A. Delorino, regarding this initiative.

The Balik Scientist Program (BSP) is Philippines’ brain gain initiative, which is implemented by the DOST. It aims to strengthen the scientific and technological human resources of academic, public, and private institutions to accelerate the flow of technologies and stimulate the development of new or strategically important technologies that are vital to national development and progress.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) BSP component taps the ingenuity of scientists and experts residing abroad and of Filipino-descent, to strengthen the S&T capabilities of local researchers and scholars in addressing critical and emerging concerns in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources sector.