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Edgardo D. Gomez

Coral reef protector named National Scientist

Dr. Edgardo Gomez is recognized for his contributions in marine ecosystems, coral reef ecology and conservation, reestablishment of giant clam stocks, and marine science capability enhancement. He is currently the Coordinator of the Philippines/Southeast Asia Center of Excellence of the Coral Reef Targeted Research Program of the Global Environment Facility and World Bank (GEF/WB).

President Benigno Aquino III bestowed the rank and title of National Scientist to Academician Edgardo D. Gomez last August 12, 2014 at the Malacañang Palace. 

Gomez, who specializes in the field of marine biology, pushed campaigns for the conservation and restoration of damaged marine ecosystems in the country. He also kicked off giant clam breeding and distribution of juveniles to restock reefs, helping communities living in coastal areas. Further, he put the Philippines in the global map of coral reef research.

His sterling contributions to the field of marine biology in the country were recognized even as he was hailed as National Scientist. The title is the highest recognition granted by the President of the Philippines to men and women of science and technology who have made valuable impact to the country. 

Gomez is one of the four Academicians who received the National Scientist rank and title. The three others include Gavino C. Trono Jr. (marine botany), Angel C. Alcala (biological sciences), and Roman C. Barba (horticulture). Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo and National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines President William Padolina assisted the president in the awarding rites.

Gomez produced comprehensive studies on invertebrate aquaculture, and invertebrate zoology. He conducted influential work on the effects on juvenile hormone mimics on crippled larvae, the findings of which helped in explaining sex determination in local hermaphroditic species. 

He also steered the first national-scale assessment of damage to coral reefs which paved the way for worldwide conservation
initiatives such as the Global Reefs and Risk Analysis, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and the International Coral Reef Action.

As the founding director of the University of the Philippines - Marine Science Institute, breeding ground of thriving Filipino scientists, Gomez steered its advancement from a humble research unit into a world-renowned marine science research and teaching institution which greatly influenced the development of marine science in Southeast Asia.

Gomez’s expertise also came in handy in the Philippines-China dispute over Spratly Islands. For the case, he gave valuable inputs in the baseline mapping of the Philippines which helped in the handling of the dispute and in setting up the groundwork for the UP System’s Archipelagic Studies Program.

Gomez graduated summa cum laude from De La Salle University in 1962 where he obtained his B.A. in English and B.S. Education. He acquired his M.S. Biology from St. Mary’s University Minnesota in 1967, and his Ph.D. Marine Biology from the University of California San Diego in 1973.

-S&T Post, Vol. XXXII, 3rd Quarter 2014

Interviewed by: Ryan Kester Mansion, S&T Media Service, DOST-STII