Ateneo hosts SAGE2022 conference on Southeast Asian biodiversity and geological history
17 Aug 2022 | Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory
The Ateneo de Manila University, through the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory of the Department of Biology, hosted the 4th Southeast Asian Gateway Evolution (SAGE2022) International Conference last 7- 11 August. The conference gathered scientists, educators, museum curators, and graduate students from Southeast and East Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.
Dr Janice Ragaza, chair of the Department of Biology, welcomed the participants to the university by highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary research on the environment and biodiversity, given the unique and dynamic context of the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia. She also shared her excitement for the first face-to-face conference the department has hosted since the lockdowns.
Speaking on behalf of Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Dr Théo Léger invited the participants to proceed with curiosity and open-mindedness as they listened to the talks. Meanwhile, Ms Marivene Manuel-Santos of the National Museum of the Philippines extended her gratitude to the participants for attending the conference despite the pandemic.
Demonstrating that collaboration is crucial in biodiversity studies, experts from various institutions joined forces in hosting sessions exploring thematic areas pertinent to Southeast Asia. The conference opened with a session on peat swamp forest (principally organized by Dr René Dommain, Nanyang Technological University), and this was succeeded by sessions on the trends and challenges in elucidating the diversity of butterflies and moths (Dr Christoph Häuser and Dr Theo Léger, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) and aquatic insects (Dr Hendrik Freitag and Dr Emmanuel Delocado, Ateneo de Manila University) in the region.
Additionally, highlighting the value of all life forms and the digitization of museums in the age of information, the conference featured a session on innovations in the biodiversity discovery pipeline for uncharismatic organisms [with Dr Thomas von Rintelen of Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Dr Yuchen Ang of the National University of Singapore, Dr Rudolf Meier of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin]. Moreover, open sessions focused on the evolution of amphibians, reptiles, fishes, and mammals and conservation challenges in terrestrial and marine environments. There were also sessions on fascinating natural history stories from researchers' fieldwork on frogs, crabs, bats, and beetles.
Dr Raphael Guerrero, dean of the School of Science and Engineering (SOSE), closed the conference by thanking the participants for their contributions. He also highlighted how the SAGE2022 forum aligns with the university's priority area of integral ecology and SOSE's research focus on environmental sustainability.
SAGE2022 would not have been possible without the support from sponsors, namely Pensoft Publishers, Del Monte Philippines, and San Miguel Brewery, as well as the Department of Biology, School of Science and Engineering, and Loyola Schools Internationalization Grant. Dr Hendrik Freitag and Dr Thomas von Rintelen served as Conference Co-chairs, while Dr Emmanuel Delocado and Christalle Beatriz Seno served as Conference Secretariat. Numerous undergrads, graduate students, alumni, and faculty members of the Department of Biology served as members of the conference's local organizing committee.