Malacañang Bestows National Scientist Honor on Academician Edgardo D. Gomez

Through Malacañang Proclamation No. 843 signed by President Benigno Aquino III on August 8, 2014, Academician Edgardo D. Gomez was proclaimed National Scientist in recognition of his sterling contributions and achievements as a researcher, scientist, conservation advocate, and mentor in invertebrate biology and ecology, giant clam culture and restoration, and coral reef assessment and conservation. He was also acclaimed as an institution-builder, administrator, resource-mobilizer, and a role model in public service, which gained and earned him distinctive international accolades here and abroad.

Academician Gomez led pioneering research works on invertebrate zoology, coral reef science and assessment, and invertebrate aquaculture, where he steered the world’s first national-scale assessment of damage to coral reefs, which brought widespread concern over the status coral reefs. This led to worldwide conservation initiatives, such as the Global reefs and Risk Analysis, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and the International Coral Reef Action, among others.

He was instrumental in conducting seminal work on the effects onp juvenile hormone mimics on crippled larvae, where he used his findings to elucidate sex determination in a local hermaphroditic species accompanied by complemental males. He intensively campaigned for the conservation and restoration of damaged marine ecosystems in the Philippines, in the replanting of corals, and in pioneering giant clam breeding and distribution of juveniles to restock reefs and provide alternative incomes for coastal communities.

Academician Gomez shepherded the development of the Marine Science Institute (MSI) at the University of the Philippines (UP), where he served as the founding director. From being a small research unit into a world-class research and teaching institution in marine science, it is now internationally renowned as a center of excellence for national and scientific initiatives, which produced a cadre of internationally well-known scientists in the country. UP-MSI influenced the growth of marine science throughout Southeast Asia, putting the country on the global map for coral reef research. His astute leadership while serving his stint as director of MSI honed growing researchers and students to attain excellence and in the acquisition of needed infrastructures for the Institute to thrive in the years of its existence.

At the national and international arena, he was revered for his diplomatic and counselinginitiatives to many key decision makers in the S&T realm. This opened doors to many significant opportunities in the public and private institutions to direct partners in the Global Environment Facility. Healso shown support in the mentoring and encouragement to generations of students to become the technocrats and future leaders in their respective fields.

He provided significant contributions in speeding up the baseline mapping of the Philippines to assist in handling the contested Spratly Islands and in laying the groundwork for the Archipelagic Studies Program that the UP System has established. He also served as a role model in protecting the integrity of science vis-à-vis political and economic interests at all times and showed compassion about his work in creating something lasting of value to the science community and the society.

In 1993, Dr. Gomez was elected as Academician by the membership of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), established by Presidential Decree No. 1003-A in 1976 and the highest recognition and advisory body to the government and science community on matters related to science and technology.

In June 2014, the membership of NAST PHL endorsed Academician Gomez to President Benigno S. Aquino III for the Rank and Title of National Scientist, the highest recognition given by the President of the Republic of the Philippine to a Filipino man or woman of science who has made significant contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology. This award was created under Presidential Decree No. 1003-A on December 16, 1976. Since 1978, the rank and title of National Scientists has been conferred on 41 Filipinos, 16 of whom are living.

Academician Gomez obtained his Bachelor of Arts/ B.S. Education summa cum laude from the De La Salle University (1962), M.S. Biology from St. Mary’s University Minnesota (1967), and Ph.D. Marine Biology from the University of California San Diego (1973). He was awarded premier recognitions, among which are: Global 500 Roll of Honour by the United Nations Environment Programme (1989), The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) in Science (Marine Biology) by the Philippine Jaycee Senate (1992), Outstanding Science Administrator by the Department of Science and Technology (1996), Gregorio Y. Zara Award (Basic Science) by the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science (1998), and the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award by the Philippine Civil Service Commission (2000).

Currently, Academician Gomez is a professor emeritus at UP (2005 – present) and served as an honorary professor at the University of Queensland (2010 – 2014).