PH rice scientist honored for pioneering breeding research

LOS BAŇOS — Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, a scientist, research manager, and teacher, was awarded Crop Science Society of the Philippines (CSSP) Honorary Fellow for his significant contributions to crop science through his pioneering breeding research.

Gregorio, who is also director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), led the development of at least 20 rice varieties with tolerance to abiotic stresses while at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as senior plant breeder.

Gregorio's studies on the genetics and molecular mapping for salinity tolerance, and his development of rapid screening techniques resulted in the first batches of salt-tolerant varieties in the Philippines and other countries in Asia and Africa.

The iron-enhanced rice he and his team had developed has been proven to significantly increase levels of total body iron in the blood of women.

Gregorio has 112 scientific publications to date and has also mentored many undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in the Philippines and other countries.

The award was presented during the 25th Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines (FCSSP) and 1st Federation of Plant Science Associations of the Philippines (FPSAP) Scientific Conference in Davao City last September 19.

The CSSP promotes human welfare through the discovery and dissemination of knowledge concerning the nature, use, improvement, and interrelationships of plants and their environment and the people.

"The prestigious award could dissuade one from making mistakes, and thus making one hesitant to explore and trying new and different things more daunting," Gregorio said in his acceptance speech.

However, he affirmed that it will not be so for him and asserted that he still wants to explore and takes risks.

He also pushed young crop science professionals to "continue to explore and enjoy, to try and to be ready, to fail and learn from it."

"We tried it; succeed or fail, we always learn. Explore, dare, be different and take risks for the sake of science. But, at the same time, be patient. Perseverance is the key," Gregorio said.

"There are three types of people who are likely to be great or successful: those who are related to great people, those who are pioneers or the first in doing things, and those who are different. Most of us cannot be the first two, so be different," he added.