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Showing posts from March, 2007

the tables are now turned

At first, I acted as a critique and as a guide for the PUP students while they crammed and nervously prepared for their oral thesis presentations scheduled on March 21. All their efforts had paid off: they all showed confidence and were knowledgeable about their studies... they made me proud.
But now, the tables have turned. It was my turn to rush, to cram, to panic, and to get all nervous as the clock happily ticks away the minutes to my presentation. Most of my data are vastly raw at the moment since the instrument got re-commissioned roughly only four weeks ago. I just prepared my slides this week and Melissa and I discussed my talk only on Wednesday; in contrast, Fe and Tita Dory have been discussing the flow of their talks and rehearsing their lines with Melissa since last week.
And finally, my first dry run happened earlier today during journal club hour. My talk has a glaring NEEDS IMPROVEMENT sign over it. Because of this, I feel honoured that my supervisor is doing the criti…

hunk of hardware

Each achievement comes with a price. Case in point: The BSc students worked on their research projects at the GQNPC lab for a summer and two semesters. The final few weeks were the most trying, just when they were so close to the finish line; but their studies were really nice. They were so good we thought they'd be included in the Best Thesis Competition in their uni. However, the examination panel in school had another idea: the IRRI thesis students were NOT included in the competition because the topics presented were all about rice (again!).
That was a bummer! It is blatantly obvious that the panelists did not understand that both groups were offering pieces of information that have never been found before. Both teams have created new paths in the never-ending road of discovery. And yet, these achievements went largely unrecognised by the school.
Despite being disqualified from the competition, they were still invited to present their work at the scientific congress (which is…

rice: brown or red?

What is better to eat, brown rice or red rice? A panelist asked us during the thesis defence of the other group of BSc students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

With this question, it becomes obvious that it is much much easier to convey results from research work when put into context of the consumers. This was why the second group of BSc students that I helped out had an easier time wiggling out of their presentation… in contrast to the first group, which had a rough time defending their work.
But before answering the question, some things have to be clarified first. The colours brown and red refer to the pericarp colour. The pericarp is one of the materials that cover the rice grain when it first comes in from the field. When the grain is dehulled and milled, the pericarp should have been removed to reveal the white grains we know as rice.
In contrast, the more popularly known brown rice found in the groceries is rice that has not been milled. Only the golden bro…

genes -> structure -> function

Gene -> Structure -> Function
This is currently the mantra being chanted by biological chemists. And this is the approach we took in developing the thesis defence presentation of one of our latest BSc student groups from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
What’s exciting about their work, without going very deep into the details, is that they have shown that results from previous studies -- which have used germplasm with limited diversity -- can be reputed because of the very fact that the genetic background of those collections were limited. And the group’s advantage was that a large collection of rice accessions was at the reach of their fingertips at IRRI.
Aside from challenging old results, the group may have discovered something new by connecting the dots from the genetic behaviour to the architecture of the polymer and finally to the cooking property. Confident that this group’s work is high-level science and the results have paved the way for more research into …