SEARCA is headed by a Director who is assisted by two Deputy Directors, one a non-Filipino, but a national of any of the other SEAMEO member countries, who takes charge of SEARCA's programs, and the other a Filipino by citizenship, who takes charge of administration.
Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio has been appointed as new Director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), an inter-government treaty organization hosted by the Philippine government on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), for a three-year term and he assumed office on 1 May 2019.
Dr. Gregorio is the eleventh to hold the top SEARCA post since its establishment in November 1966 by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO).
Dr. Gregorio is also an Academician at the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) of the Philippines and is currently a professor at the Institute of Crop Science of the UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science.
A distinguished rice scientist, Dr. Gregorio served the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for almost 30 years, including a five-year stint as IRRI's rice breeder in Africa based at Africa Rice Centre station at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria from 2004 to 2009.
Throughout his career, Dr. Gregorio has bred more than 15 rice varieties, most of which are salt-tolerant varieties that have greatly helped farmers in Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, and the Philippines. He also led efforts to develop micronutrient-dense rice varieties to address anemia and malnutrition in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
But rice breeding is not Dr. Gregorio's only forte. Prior to his appointment as SEARCA Director, he also served as Crop Breeding Manager for Corn at the East-West Seed Company, Inc. from 2015 to 2018 where he was the global lead of the sweet corn and waxy corn breeding programs for South and Southeast Asia, the Latin Americas, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Gregorio has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Outstanding Young Scientist Award (OYS 2004) and Outstanding Publication Award given by NAST; The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM 2004) in the field of Agriculture-Plant Breeding and Genetics; the Ho Chi Minh Medal Award for great contribution to the cause of agriculture and rural development in Vietnam; Ten Outstanding Youth Scientists (TOYS 1981) of the Philippines given by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) of the Philippines; Honorary Scientist, Rural Development Administration (RDA), Korea; and other awards for his outstanding research and research management achievements.
He has authored and co-authored at least 90 articles published in various scientific journals, chapters on rice breeding in 14 books, and five scientific manuals and bulletins. He mentored and supervised 20 PhD and 27 MS students and more than 40 BS students in plant breeding and genetics at UPLB and other universities in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America; and he continues to hone scientists and future scientists as a mentor and teacher.
Dr. Gregorio obtained his PhD in Genetics, MS in Plant Breeding, and BS in Agriculture at UPLB.
Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma is Program Head for Graduate Education and Institutional Development (GEID) at SEARCA and serves as Coordinator for the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC).
As GEID Head, Dr. Cuaresma oversees the Center's recruitment of scholarship applicants to monitoring of scholars' status until completion as well as in establishing partnerships for (joint) scholarship funding. During her stint as UC Coordinator, the Consortium activities have expanded to include not just regular student and faculty exchanges and collaborative researches but also the establishment of dual/double and joint degree programs. She currently serves as Project Manager of the Master of Science in Food Security and Climate Change (MS FSCC) project funded by the European Commission's ERASMUS+ program under its Capacity Building for Higher Education component.
Dr. Cuaresma joined SEARCA in 2014 while on seconded appointment from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) where she taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Math and Applied Mathematics (AMAT), served as Adviser to Special Problems of MATH and AMAT students, and supervised Actuarial Science students in their internship programs. She also completed research projects in the field of algebraic combinatorics and served as trainor of training programs for math educators.
She was the Consortium Coordinator of UPLB for six years, from 2006 to 2012, in her capacity as the Graduate School Secretary (2006-2011) and as the Vice Chancellor for Administration (2011-2012). While with the UPLB Graduate School, she also served as Coordinator for the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Scholarship Program under the auspices of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST), as well as for the Science and Engineering Graduate Scholarship Program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). In 2004, she was Head of the Mathematics Division and was Assistant for Academic Matters to the UPLB Chancellor in 2005.
In January 2018, Dr. Cuaresma filed an early retirement from UPLB to serve SEARCA on a full-time basis.
Dr. Cuaresma earned her BS, MS, and PhD in Mathematics at the University of the Philippines Diliman and completed her PhD dissertation at the University of Western Australia in 2004.
Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio is currently the Program Head of SEARCA's Research and Development Department (RDD). He leads the Center's agriculture and rural development research initiatives aimed at influencing policy directions, building research capacities, and promoting research activities in the Southeast Asian region.
Dr. Orencio has worked on projects that dealt with grassroots development and capacity building related to urban planning, land and water management, climate change adaptation, and environmental protection and conservation in the Philippines and some parts of the Asia-Pacific region. He held various positions in programs funded and implemented by different international organizations such as the USAID, World Bank, AusAID, and JICA.
He assisted local governments develop policies for building resilience through evidence-based, broad-based and transdisciplinary approaches, and worked with academic institutions establish knowledge hubs for supporting sustainability in the USAID-funded Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, which is the flagship project of the Cities Development Initiatives (CDI) Program of the USAID Philippines Mission. He collaborated with institutions in the Asia-Pacific region for a research project on human-environmental security, and published articles about vulnerable and disaster-resilient societies, health and livelihood practices and the interlinkages among agriculture-based activities and climate change and the nexus of water, energy and food systems under the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan.
Dr. Orencio finished his bachelor's degree in Fisheries from the University of the Philippines in the Visayas and has two master's degrees under his belt – one in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning and another in Environmental Science from Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science Development from the same Japanese university in 2014.
In 2017, he joins as part-time faculty staff of the Department of Environmental Science of Ateneo de Manila University, and handles courses on urban ecology, natural resource management, environmental risk assessment and management, and disaster risk resilience.