The Making of a Scientist

How Does a Child Become a Scientist

Dr. Lawrence Heaney is one of my favorite scientists, not only because of his work, but his obvious enthusiasm about it. I have had the opportunity to meet him several times and his passion for researching Philippine biodiversity as well as his energy in mentoring Filipino scientists is truly inspiring.

Dr. Heaney works with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and while he has studied other areas around the world, for him, the Philippines offers a fascinating natural laboratory and he has chosen this biodiversity-rich country as his major research area. He started researching here in 1981 and has come back almost every year to do field research, each trip a further opportunity to discover new things, collaborate with other Filipino scientists, and mentor young researchers. Continue reading

Selfie for Biodiversity

May 22 is the International Day for Biodiversity and to celebrate the event, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau and GIZ are holding a photo contest called Protecting the Reservoir of Life, Selfie for Biodiversity.

Yup, you read that right. The organizers are hoping to leverage the ubiquitous selfie as a way of getting people to celebrate biodiversity.

Selfies have been so popular that the Oxford Dictionaries declared “selfie” as the Word of the Year for 2013. And judging from my social media feeds, it looks like the selfie is still going strong.

Admittedly, selfies can be quite annoying, especially if done in excess. As in an entire Facebook album dedicated to just one selfie session one lazy afternoon. As in at least one selfie posted per day in all of one’s social media accounts. However, this contest wants you to make selfies that are not so, well, self-centered, by relating it to biodiversity.

Biodiversity is defined (also by Oxford Dictionaries) as “the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable.” In addition to living organisms, the UN definition also includes ecosystems (“ecological complexes of which they are part”) as part of the concept of biodiversity.

The Philippines has tremendous biodiversity resources, and really scientists have barely begun to scratch the surface.

Specifically, the contest seeks entries that “capture the true essence of biodiversity, why biodiversity is important, and explain how Filipinos can help conserve the Philippines’ rich biodiversity.”

Full contest mechanics HERE.

Now, I’m not that fond of selfies, and I’m not sure the judges would go for these, but here are some simple ideas for selfies for biodiversity:

Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #1. Selfie while holding a glass of water. Water is a vital benefit of healthy forests. Healthy forests are chockfull of biodiversity, and the whole system works to regulate our water supply. Bada bing, bada boom. Konek!

Extreme version: selfie while rappelling down a waterfall. E di ikaw na.


from the forests the nourishing waters flow. Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, Southern Palawan

Simple selfie for biodiversity concept #2. Selfie with a bug, or butterfly, or worm you found in your garden. Or selfie with an ant. Or selfie with a spiderweb, yes, preferably with the spider still in it. Because all living things have a role in the ecosystem, and we’re all connected, yes, like a web.

Extreme version: selfie while in the company of some humongous/rare/badass animal in its natural habitat. So for example you managed to snap a selfie while swimming alongside a whale shark in Donsol, then congratulations. We probably won’t be able to actually see the whole whale shark in the frame because after all it is a pretty big fish, but the judges will take your word for it. Maybe. Let’s see. But don’t go harassing wildlife just so you can get a selfie; that’s not badass, that’s just tacky.

responsible tourists keeping their distance

responsible tourists keeping their distance

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