Ateneo hosts PSFBE2022 conference on freshwater science
28 Nov 2022 | Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory
Last 9-11 November 2022, the Ateneo de Manila University, through the Ateneo Biodiversity Research Laboratory, Department of Biology, and Department of Environmental Science, hosted the 3rd Philippine Symposium on Freshwater Biodiversity and Ecosystems (PSFBE2022). The conference gathered at least 200 taxonomists, ecologists, conservation biologists, policy lobbyists, and biodiversity enthusiasts from all over the Philippines, as well as Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, and Germany.
With the theme “Challenges and prospects for freshwater science on the onset of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration”, the three-day program was loaded with learning from 4 plenary talks, 61 oral presentations, 18 poster presentations, 2 Conversations, and a Sustainability Walk. After three days of informative talks, several local and foreign participants joined the post-conference field trip to Mt Daraitan and Tinipak River, which was organized for those who wish to experience nature and are open to the challenging three-hour muddy hike to the Heart Peak.
In his keynote speech, Academician Dr Arvin Diesmos (ASEAN Center for Biodiversity), talked about the threats to wetlands, as well as the intensifying call for action throughout the Southeast Asian region. Meanwhile, plenary speakers Dr Thomas von Rintelen (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin), Prof Massimo Delledone (University of Verona), and Prof Lydia Leonardo (University of the East & University of the Philippines) talked about the thriving diversity in the region, emerging technologies in advancing freshwater studies, and the nexus between freshwater and public health, respectively.
Aside from the informative plenary and parallel sessions, PSFBE has two Conversations, or roundtable discussions focused on pressing biodiversity issues. The one first is entitled “Conversations on Teaching Biodiversity”, which was co-organized by the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability (AIS), Biodiversity Teaching in a Philippines-Cambodian-German Network (BIO-PHIL) project, and ASEAN University Network on Ecological Education and Culture (AUN-EEC). Key points raised include the role of first-hand field experience to promote biodiversity appreciation and incentivizing biodiversity researchers. The second one, co-presented by Southeast Asian Limnological Network (SEALNet), and International Society of Limnology (SIL), focused on the feasibility of floating solar panels on lakes. While the conference was held onsite, the Conversations were held in hybrid format with participants from different parts of the globe attending via Zoom to enrich the discussion.
The 3rd PSFBE was originally scheduled for November 2020 in Ateneo, but preparations were put on hold due to the pandemic. Even though the prospect of conducting it online was discussed, the idea was set aside as the local organizers hoped to engage the participants not only in intellectual discussions, but also in engaging social events. PSFBE2022 had a poster session and cocktail networking on the first night and the conference dinner on the second night. Through these activities, opportunities for networking and socialization were provided to the participants.
In their welcoming remarks, Vice President for the Loyola Schools-OIC Fr Johnny So SJ, EdD, Department of Biology Chairperson Dr Janice Ragaza, and Philippine Society for Freshwater Science Prof Francis Magbanua (University of the Philippines Diliman) all shared their excitement for the on-site conference which was three years in the making. Fr Go shared how the conference thrusts resonate with the University’s priority area of integral ecology. He invited the participants to reflect on how their research can contribute to uplifting the lives of the people. Meanwhile, Dr Ragaza highlighted how the unique context and realities of the Philippines and the region calls for intersection of various fields and specializations.
The success of PSFBE2022 is heavily due to the effort and dedication of its organizers. Photo by Clister Pangantihon.
Given that one of the thrusts of the conference was sustainability, PSFBE2022 moved away from printing individual copies of voluminous book of abstracts and instead issued a digital version saved in a USB which doubles as a nametag. Additionally, several collaterals of the conference were outsourced from local communities neighboring river systems. Moreover, PSFBE offers the Sustainability Walk, organized by our Ateneo Institute of Sustainability and The Ateneo Wild, to demonstrate both the greenery and the human-made sustainable innovations in the University. Through these and more, it was envisioned by the organizers that PSFBE sets a precedent and a benchmark on what a sustainable conference may look like.
PSFBE2022 would not have been possible without the support from sponsors namely AdMU Department of Biology, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), Gerry Roxas Foundation, SunAsia Energy Inc., and UST-Science. Moreover, the Conference Dinner was sponsored by the Laguna Lake Development Authority and San Miguel Brewery while the Welcoming Luncheon was sponsored by the Office of the City Mayor of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.
Dr Emmanuel Delocado and Prof Hendrik Freitag served as Conference Co-chairs, while Christalle Beatriz Seno and Jenica Sy served as Conference Secretariat. Various graduate students, undergraduate students, research assistants, alumni, faculty members, and staff, as well as numerous offices in the Ateneo, contributed to ensuring the success of the conference.
Top phpto: Official conference photo of PSFBE2022. Photo by Gavin De Vera.