Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Gender and Diversity at Transport services in headquarters

IRRI welcomes three (3) new mechanic women staff assigned at the Transport Services in headquarters on 10 April 2013. They are Maria Janet Certifico (left), Melissa Reyes (center), and Rosita Polvorosa (right). These three mechanics are in-charge of the preventive maintenance of the Institute’s transportation - related services and are reporting directly to the Transport Services Manager.

They are bringing with them their knowledge and skills acquired from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of the Philippines. They find working at IRRI challenging “pero masaya” (but fun) and are looking forward to a more fruitful stay at IRRI.

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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

2012 outstanding NRS recognized

The annual NRS awarding ceremony was held on 5 April 2013 at the Havener Auditorium.  The NRS Awards Program recognizes the important contribution of Nationally Recruited Staff (NRS) to IRRI’s work, and formally awards outstanding performances. The selection of the winners is made by a committee composed of distinguished members of the IRRI community from both research and support professions.  The committee received 11 outstanding nominations for the three categories and the process for selecting only one recipient for each award category was truly difficult. Hence, two winners were adjudged in the IRRI Outstanding Administrative Support and IRRI Outstanding Research Support.

The following were named winners of the 2012 NRS Awards:

  • 2012 OUTSTANDING SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT OR DEVELOPMENT - Rolando O. Torres, Senior Associate Scientist (CESD);
  • 2012 OUTSTANDING RESEARCH SUPPORT - Julian A. Lapitan, Senior Manager (NPR) and Molecular Marker Applications Lab (MMAL) composed of Socorro L. Carandang (PBGB), Grace Angelique F.CariƱo (PBGB), Crisostomo C. Dizon (PBGB), Christine Jade Dilla-Ermita (PBGB), Venice Margaret B. Juanillas (TTC-GRC), Dennis Nicuh B. Lozada (PBGB), Ma. Ymber V. Reveche (PBGB), and Erwin S. Tandayu (PBGB); and
  • 2012 OUTSTANDING ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT - Gina E. Zarsadias, Assistant Manager II / Associate Program Manager (SSD) and Finance Controller’s Team composed of Jiselle E. Albia, Marian E. Collantes, Floridel M. Macalalad, Susan D. Ramos, and Anabel V. Valdenarro.

Dr. Emerlinda Roman, Chair of the IRRI Board of Trustees, congratulated the winners, highlighting the importance of individual staff contributions to the overall success of the Institute and thanked the winners for their excellent work.  Agreeing with Dr. Roman’s message, Dr. Robert Zeigler expressed in his closing remarks, how he continues to be inspired by the outstanding work of NRS in achieving the IRRI’s mission.

Aside from the honorary sash, the recipients also received a plaque of recognition and a cash award of $500.00.  Additionally, their names will be included on the “Roll of Honor” prominently displayed in FF Hill Building.


Rolando Torres
With over 30 years of experience at IRRI, Mr. Rolando “Rolly” Torres is a key resource person for other researchers and is often approached for advice on experimental setup and problem solving. He frequently hosts visitors from outside IRRI and at the Institute’s field and greenhouse facilities, and is also involved in lectures and demonstrations at training courses.

In 2012, Rolly has several scientific achievements that definitely merit recognition. His achievements last year and over his career at IRRI reflects his strong knowledge of rice management and his devoted scientific interest in rice/drought research. His three major accomplishments were: 1) Selection of drought donors from Genebank accessions. In 2012, the top yielding genotypes in both drought and well-watered conditions were sent for disease screening, allowing a final selection of the top 3 genotypes for high yield and disease resistance to be recommended for use in breeding. Mr. Torres summarized this work in a manuscript and it has been recently accepted for publication in Field Crops Research; 2) Conceptualization, implementation, and publication of a Drying Facility Using Hot Air Exhaust from an Air Conditioner. Mr. Torres came up with the idea of harnessing hot air exhausted from the large air conditioners at IRRI. The dryer runs at no-cost and is an effective way to pre-dry plant samples before final oven drying and weighing. The results were presented at the Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines (FCSSP) meeting in 2012 and have been accepted for publication; and 3) Publication of a book chapter outlining guidelines for drought screening in the field. Mr. Torres is often approached by other groups for advice on methods for conducting drought experiments. After noticing that some colleagues were having trouble with their field setup, he wanted to share his expertise and decided to write a book chapter summarizing procedures and advice for drought screening. This chapter was published in a root/drought methods manual in 2012 and includes detailed guidelines for drought screening in both upland and lowland conditions.


Julian Lapitan
Through more than 27 years of service, Julian “Jojo” Lapitan clearly shows his commitment and loyalty to IRRI. He is proud of his being a senior officer of IRRI, and he works extra hard to ensure that IRRI's mission is promoted and protected at all times. Highly respected and deferred to in NPR and IRRI as a whole, Jojo is seen as not only a senior officer, but as a "big brother" to many IRRI staff. He is the trusted officer to build relationships with key government officials in all countries where IRRI works, especially in Asia. Jojo is also one of the few IRRI staff who have travelled and worked regularly in North Korea and Iran.

As the National Programs Relations Manager, Jojo facilitates the strengthening of collaboration among IRRI, NARES, and other partners in the development of rice science and adoption of its products for the benefit of rice farmers and consumers. Specifically he: 1) Serves as the main focal point for IRRI’s research activities with the host country particularly serving as Project Coordinator of IRRI’s R&D support to the Philippine Rice Self Sufficiency Program (RSSP) and other government’s rice and rice-based projects; 2) Coordinates and maintains availability and access to useful and updated information from NARES partners; 3) Supervises IRRI Country Offices without country representative and provides support to countries without country offices; and 4) Facilitates strategic research prioritization activities of IRRI and NARES partners (in coordination with Deputy Director General for Research, Donor Relations and Projects Coordination Office and concerned IRRI staff).

In 2012, Jojo exerted tremendous effort, and displayed remarkable leadership and networking ability in spearheading IRRI's collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and PhilRice to generate a joint program under the Philippine government's "Food Staples Security Program". The result of Jojo's important effort is an unprecedented and largest ever multi-year grant from the DA to IRRI, amounting to about Php 500 Million from 2013 to 2017. This exceptional achievement helps ensure IRRI's research is conducted smoothly in the Philippines and has opened the way for new collaboration.


 Molecular Marker
Applications Lab (MMAL)
The Molecular Marker Applications Laboratory (MMAL) team has performed an outstanding job in the past year to upgrade the lab and optimize the SNP genotyping workflow in preparation for the launching of the Genotyping Services Lab (GSL). Their efforts have significantly improved the marker lab’s operations, which will enable IRRI’s research and breeding groups to achieve a higher level of productivity with more efficient DNA extraction and marker genotyping.

They have performed at a level well above their expected duties, especially to accomplish the following achievements: 1) Upgrading the lab facilities through a series of well-planned  renovations and selecting improved equipment; 2) Optimizing the Thermo Kingfisher Flex system for automated DNA extraction and the Fluidigm EP1 system for genotyping of flexible sets of SNP markers; 3) Testing and validating gene-based SNP markers for important loci for the breeding programs; 4) Helping to evaluate and configure the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for improved sample tracking and workflow management; 5) Running sets of 384-SNP markers on the BeadXpress Reader, helping in SNP data analysis, and developing user-friendly tools for SNP data manipulation; 6) Assisting in the preparation of launching GSL with a complete business plan under full cost recovery; and 7) Maintaining high standards of lab safety and RMQA procedures, keeping the lab running smoothly, hosting short-term visitors in the lab, and leading lab sessions for several training courses throughout the year.


Gina Zarsadias
Ms. Gina Zarsadias is simultaneously managing Programs 4, 5, and 6,  ensuring the efficient workflow of the day-to-day administration and monitoring of program- and project funds, events and activities of these three programs.

In 2012 Gina facilitated the preparation and implementation of workshops and meetings within and outside the Philippines such as IRRI-CABI, Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in emerging Economies or RIICE, Experts Consultation and SSD Outposted meetings. She has also single-handedly managed the logistics of organizing an experts’ consultation meeting in Bhubaneswar that was attended by more than 70 high ranking bureaucrats, eminent scientists and partners.

Aside from consistently performing her standard administrative duties to a high standard, she has been tapped in helping out IRRI-wide activities using her training, facilitation, and communication skills. She is an abstract reviewer for the Extension-Marketing-Policies papers for the International Young Scientists’ Conference and a resource person for the presenters of the mentioned group conference. She is also a resource person on IFSA’s Speech-craft program held on several weekends and managed division-related activities as well as prepared and implemented the First Division-wide Presentation Competition; and the SSD Open House.

As part of IRRI’s organization like SINoP, she has also served IRRI and the neighboring communities by providing inputs and taking active participation in coming up with socio-cultural activities and outreach programs such as adopt-a-school and helping out the typhoon victims through feeding programs.


Finance Controller’s Team 
The Finance Controller’s Team worked on the Center’s cost allocation process. The process complied with the revised CGIAR Financial Guidelines No. 5 - CGIAR Cost Allocation Guideline. The group also revised the Research Support (RSS) and Operational Support Services (OSS) recovery methodology.

Earlier, RSS and OSS were charged as a percentage of the grant value but now they were applied as a cost which was based on the time spent by the researcher on a grant. The earlier method was considered by many donors as another way of charging the indirect costs and hence many of them were questioning / rejecting the same. The new method is more acceptable to the Donors. When the new methodology was developed by the group and approved by the Deputy Director General for Research and Deputy Director General for Management Services, the group applied it on all the Budget Proposals to be submitted to prospective donors. In 2012, a total of 193 budget proposals were developed and submitted in coordination with the Scientists involved and also with the Donor Relations and Projects Coordination Office. The budget templates were also changed in order to make sure that the new recovery rates are included and that the grants are properly categorized by source of funding (GRiSP, CCAFS, other SRF, etc.). Classifying the grants in correct category is very important for measuring the research outcome for programs like GRiSP against the resources used to achieve those outcomes.

The group also worked and implemented changes in several aspects of the budget making process. They closely coordinated with the project leaders, Donor Relations and Projects Coordination Office, project coordinators, etc. to make sure that the estimates are more reliable. In 2012, budgeted surplus estimates presented by the Management to the Board of Trustees closely approximated to the actual results of 2012.

Click here for the photos.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sportsfest at HQ opens on April 23!

Human Resource Services (HRS) has finalized the details of this year’s Sportsfest in partnership with selected team of coordinators from different organizational units. This year’s Sportsfest themed "It's PaLAY Time: At IRRI... with hardwork, comes quality play!" hopes to have a much more inclusive approach to fitness, but still maintaining the competitive environment it has long been known for. New games and fun events will be introduced which everyone can look forward to.

Below are the official team clusters:

IRRI Violet Team: Crop & Environmental Sciences Division (CESD), C4 Rice Center (C4C), Social Sciences Division (SSD), Grain Quality Nutrition Center (GQNC), Physical Plant Services (PPS), and Lazaga (Janitorial). To participate, contact the violet team coordinators, Mervin Manalili and Jane Girly Cuerdo or sign-up online at  http://bit.ly/irrivioletteam. 

IRRI Blue Team: Experiment Station (ES), Training Center (TC), Safety and Security Services (SSS), Library & Documentation Services (LDS), Information Technology Services (ITS), Events, Visitors, and Exhibits Office (EVEO), Communications & Publications Services (CPS), Food and Housing Services (FHS), Transport Services (TS), FFHill Building, Harrar Hall, Khush Hall, Bulldog, Brent, Clinic, and ECDC. To participate, contact the blue team coordinators, Joann Glorioso and Jane Carlos or sign-up online at http://bit.ly/irriblueteam. 

IRRI Yellow Team: Plant Breeding, Genetics & Biotechnology (PBGB), TTC-Genetic Resources Center (TTC-GRC), Seed Health Unit (SHU), and Risk Management Quality Assurance (RMQA). To participate, contact the black team coordinators Enrico Francisco Mercado and Carlos Casal or sign-up online at http://bit.ly/irriblackteam.

Sign-up now! Start the National Year of Rice with tons of PaLAY!

The IRRI annual Sportsfest is part of the HRS Health & Wellness Program. For inquiries, please contact HRS Workplace Relations & Advisory Services team at ext. 2363 or send email to irrihrs-wras@irri.org.