“I never thought that I will teach. Very early, I realized that I’m not good in communicating and I’m not very patient, too. Initially, I was struggling.”
Who would think that this anecdote would come from a celebrated scientist and professor who has since paved the way for genetics education and research to flourish not only in UPLB but in the whole country?
Such is one of the many revelations about the life and professional career of Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez, professor emeritus of UPLB and National Scientist of the Philippines, in the video lecture entitled “‘Mother Cell’ of Philippine Genetics: The Academic Legacy of Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez.”
Dr. Ramirez, who is referred to as “mother cell” in the genetics and plant breeding circles because of her pioneering efforts in these areas, is the second UPLB academic personality to be featured in “The Legacy Lecture Series (LLS).” The LLS is a video lecture project of the Interactive Learning Center (ILC) that aims to record for posterity the collective academic experience of distinguished UPLB academics.
Two condensed versions from the 44-minute video were played during its launch on May 8 at the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) Seminar Room. The event was graced by some of the big names in UPLB’s biological science community, including Dr. Ramirez herself.
As Dr. Ramirez, who graduated from UPLB, BS Agriculture, magna cum laude, went on recalling her reluctant first years of teaching, she told about what might have become the turning point in her career. “After a while, I accepted that I was going to teach genetics, probably for the rest of my career in the University,” she said.
Dr. Ramirez cited the late Dr. Dioscoro L. Umali, former dean of then then UP College of Agriculture and one of UPLB’s greatest pillars, as instrumental in recruiting her and preparing her for a bigger career. “He took care of us; he made sure that we have advanced degrees. All of us earned our advanced degrees in the United States,” she recalled. Dr. Ramirez obtained her Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Minnesota and Purdue University, respectively.
The video lecture has seven parts. It features interviews of Dr. Ramirez about her career; informal lectures about the basics of and the issues surrounding genetics, plant breeding, and biotechnology that were shot in her office, home, and inside UPLB laboratories.
It is also filled with testimonies of her protégés at the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) and IPB, who call themselves “daughter cells,” on the teaching and mentoring legacy of their “mother cell;” testimonies of past UPLB officials, namely Dr. Emil Q. Javier and Dr. Ruben L. Villareal, past UP president and UPLB chancellor, respectively, and members of the National Biosafety Committee of the Philippines, namely: Dr. Jaime Montoya, Atty. Jose Maria A. Ochave, and Dr. Flerida A. Cariño about her contributions to agriculture, science, and biosafety; messages of gratitude from her nephews and nieces, who refer to Dr. Ramirez as a mother and father figure to them; and Dr. Ramirez’s hopes for the future of genetics and plant breeding in the country.
After the video lecture, Dr. Ramirez received a plaque of recognition handed by Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr.; Dr. Portia G. Lapitan, vice chancellor for academic affairs; Dr. Enrico P. Supangco and Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, deans of the College of Agriculture and Food Science and College of Arts and Sciences, respectively; and Dr. Maribel Dionisio-Sese, director of ILC.
In her message of acceptance, Dr. Ramirez expressed her gratitude for the recognition. “When the heart is full, words do not come out easily. I am lost for words. That this tribute overwhelmed me is an understatement,” she said.
Dr. Ramirez also expressed her optimism for the future of plant breeding in the country, and commended the science personnel who chose to serve the country. “I am not yet ready to give up in the country. I am not ready to give up on plant breeding. Those who chose to stay behind are doing their job; those who are left are not sleeping on their job. I’m not ready to give up yet,” she concluded.
Also present during the launch were National Scientists Ricardo M. Lantican and Ramon C. Barba; Dr. Javier and Dr. Villareal; Katrina Ross A. Tan, faculty member at the Department of Humanities, who served as the executive producer and director of the video; deans of colleges, namely: Dr. Ma. Theresa H. Velasco (development communication); Dr. Eduardo B. Torres (veterinary medicine); and Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr. (Graduate School); faculty members and staff of IBS and IPB; and family members of Dr. Ramirez.
Dr. Sese said that the video lecture shall serve as an introductory lecture to relevant courses. It is accessible at the ILC headquarters, third floor of CAS Annex 1 Building. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)