DOST to further promote metrology after staff wins int'l award

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

January 8, 2020, 7:54 pm

MANILA -- With the recent international recognition gained by one of its staff in the field of metrology, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) plans to further strengthen and promote this field of science, Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said Wednesday.

Benilda Ebarvia, assistant scientist and head of Metrology in Chemistry Laboratory of the DOST's National Metrology Laboratory, received the 2019 Developing Economies National Metrology Institute (DEN) Award in Sydney, Australia last December.

The award, established in 2010, recognizes the outstanding achievements of an individual from the Asia Pacific Metrology Programme's (APMP) 17 member economies. It is being awarded to just one winner yearly, and organizers may also declare no winner in a year.

Ebarvia is the first winner from the Philippines.

"Having been involved in the metrology program of the National Metrology Division of DOST, she was responsible for drafting the proposal for the 'Enhancement of the Competence and Capabilities of the National Metrology Laboratory of the Philippines' for funding. Through her leadership and technical know-how, the proposal was approved for funding by DBM with a project duration of five years, which started in 2017," dela Peña told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

He added that the award does not only aim to praise an individual’s achievement, but also to encourage others within APMP’s DEN community in years to come.

Ebarvia was nominated for the award by Annabelle Briones, DOST-ITDI (Industrial Technology Development Institute) director being a full member of the APMP.

She received a plaque of recognition for her work on developing the first Reference Materials (RMs) in the Philippines. RMs are used to confirm methods and to assess the accuracy of measurement results for use by measurement laboratories to analyze, for instance, the content of properties in food. These are also useful in proving what makes up a particular food, its micronutrients, or the extent of its authenticity.

Her RM work supports results of measurement laboratories to ensure that local commodities can pass stringent international trade standards on food quality and control, dela Peña added.

"The award is not just a recognition of the Filipinos' talent in the field of metrology, but rather, recognizes metrology's role in a country. (On) behalf of the ITDI, we are proud that the endeavors of our very own scientists were recognized outside the country. This is part of ITDI’s mandate and consequently, puts the country in the map of international scientific advancements, and indicates improvements in the status of metrology in the Philippines," he said.

Dela Peña said the department will fully support endeavors in the metrology program, so it could achieve its vision to become the “provider of world-class scientific, technological and innovative solutions that will lead to higher productivity and a better quality of life.”

The country needs to have "accurate, reliable, and traceable measurements," he added.

The DOST will organize awareness seminars and meetings to promote the importance of metrology.

Dela Peña also noted that the DOST's metrology laboratory is open to students and others from the public for a visit and orientation about the field.

"Active participation by the staff in local and international conferences are also venues for introducing researches and activities. We have received positive responses and interests from the academe, graduate students and researchers who want to pursue expertise on metrology," he added.

Dela Peña said the country still has a lot to do to be on par with other countries in the field of metrology. At present, metrology focuses on aspects such as mass, length, pressure, temperature, electricity, and volume, he said.

There is also a lack of awareness of the importance of metrology, he said.

"Laboratories are still lacking reference materials for testing to ensure that their measurements are accurate and traceable. The country needs local reference materials, which are more appropriate in testing Philippine products. Currently, local laboratories import from other countries and such reference materials may not be entirely appropriate," dela Peña explained.

"Proficiency testing (PT) schemes in the country are mostly consensus-based, therefore there is a need to promote accuracy-based PTs for competency," he said. (PNA