President Benigno Aquino III recently conferred on marine biologist and Fulbrighter Dr. Angel C. Alcala the title of National Scientist for his major contributions to the country’s marine development and ecology concerns. The Order of National Scientist is the highest honor given by the President to a man or woman of science in the country who has made significant contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology.
Dr. Alcala is an authority on community ecology, biogeography, and the systematic of amphibians and reptiles, having 30 years of experience in tropical marine resource conservation. He has authored over 160 scientific papers as well as books. He was the first Filipino scientist to produce comprehensive studies on Philippine reptiles and amphibians. His studies led to the discovery of 50 additional species of reptiles and amphibians to the already known 400 species. He developed the first community-based program that created artificial coral reefs. This program became the model for similar fisheries development programs throughout establishing the Apo, Sumilon, Carbin, and Pamilacan marine reserves in the Philippines.
Dr. Alcala was a recipient of a Fulbright-Smith Mundt fellowship for a master’s degree program in biology at Stanford University in 1959. In 1964, he returned to Stanford to complete his doctoral studies. He has headed the Institute of Marine Biology at the University of the Philippines and was deputy executive director of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development. He has been a visiting researcher at various universities and establishments, including the University of Florida and the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Alcala has also worked for the Philippine government as Secretary of Environment and National Resources, and as Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education. He also served as President of Silliman University
Dr. Alcala received the Field Museum Founders’ Council Award of Merit for his contributions to environmental biology, the 1994 Magsaysay Award for Public Service and the 1999 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation.
Dr. Alcala is currently the Director of the Silliman University-Angelo King Center for research and Environmental Management and the Commission on Higher Education Zonal Research Center. He is also Professor Emeritus of biological sciences at Silliman University.