LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA, Philippines – Twenty-seven young scientists and 10 experts serving as mentors from eight Southeast Asian Countries met in a two-day workshop to enhance on-going collaborative research on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Agriculture Sector. The workshop, titled IFS-SEARCA Mentoring Workshop on Collaborative Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, was organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) through its Knowledge Management Department-Training Unit (KMD-TU) and Research and Development Department; and the International Foundation for Science (IFS) based in Sweden. It is held at the SEARCA Headquarters on 20-21 November 2018.
The 27 participants, 15 of whom are female, composed the 12 collaborative research teams from various government, research, academic, and private institutions in Southeast Asia that received a research grant financed by the Carolina MacGillavry endowment and SEARCA. This workshop is part of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for an IFS-SEARCA Collaborative Research Grants Pilot. This is the third batch of grantees facilitated by IFS but the first one in Asia. The first and second pilots were implemented in Africa in 2013 and 2014.
In the workshop orientation, Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, Technical Advisor of SEARCA KMD said the mentoring process is expected to help the researchers in strengthening their processes, ensuring that their projects are of high quality, and producing useful results. The grants commenced in 2017 and are expected to be completed by December 2020. Thus, this workshop was timed while the researchers were in the midst of analyzing their research and writing their reports. During the first day of the workshop, participants identified the following areas of their mentoring needs and concerns: (1) research methods and data analysis, (2) project-specific technical concerns, (3) collaborative scientific report writing, (4) journal article writing and other means of communicating research results, (5) intellectual ownership/property rights, and (6) future grant opportunities and additional budget.
The teams were able to report their research progress and get feedback from their mentors in a one-to-team setting for project-specific questions and in a plenary for cross-cutting concerns. The mentors are volunteers identified by SEARCA and IFS from a pool of established regional and international scientists from esteemed research and academic institutions including the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in the Philippines, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Katsetsart University (KU) in Thailand, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV).
Aside from their mentors, the research teams were also able to get inputs from resource persons from IFS and SEARCA. Dr. Nighisty Ghezae, IFS Director, presented the challenges and lessons learned from the first and second pilot grantees. Dr. Bessie M. Burgos, Technical Advisor for SEARCA's R&D, presented the mid-term report of the current batch of researchers. They highlighted the common setbacks that the researchers have experienced, including delays in project implementation and in mobilizing funds in their respective institutions, institutional differences among team members and challenges in carrying out plans, and inability to meet set goals due to various factors including deadlines, research objectives, competing priorities, as well as practical or logistical challenges in project implementation. These challenges were also addressed during the workshop.
Other resource persons included Dr. Cadiz; Dr. Maria Monina Cecilia A. Villena, Program Head for SEARCA's Knowledge Management Department; Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head for SEARCA's Research and Development Department; Dr. Mariliza V. Ticsay, Head of SEARCA's Knowledge Resources Unit; Dr. Nova A. Ramos, Program Specialist of SEARCA's KMD-TU; and Ms. Annika Eriksson, Program Admnistrator from IFS. (Regine Joy E. Javier)