A world expert on nanocellulose from Grenoble France, Dr. Alain, Dufresne, came to UPLB to deliver a lecture series on biobased nanomaterials at the Manza Room, Florencio Tamesis Hall, College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR) on March 5-7, 2018. The three-day lecture series was made possible through the University of the Philippines’ World Expert Lecture Series (WELS) Program.
The event was attended by faculty members and students from different colleges in UPLB such as CFNR, CEAT, CAS, as well as from other institutions and government agencies such as Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology (UPLB BIOTECH), among other guests and participants.
In her opening remarks, Prof. Rosalie C. Mendoza welcomed the participants in behalf of the CFNR Dean Willie P. Abasolo. She hoped that through the lecture series, there would be enhancement of existing nanotechnology programs in UPLB and other agencies to uplift the lives of the Filipinos in general.
Dr. Ramon A. Razal, professor at the CFNR Department of Forest Products and Paper Science, gave a brief background of the WELS Program funded by the UP System. Through the program, UP professors are allowed and encouraged to invite world-renowned scientists, artists, and experts to deliver lectures or conduct performances for the UP community to expose and inspire faculty members, researchers, and students on their specific fields of studies.
During the fist day, Dufresne mentioned that there is an increasing demand for products such as “bioased (green) materials” for both the food and non-food usage of renewable resources and nanosized particles.
Dufresne talked about three polysaccharides such as cellulose, starch, and chitin as well as their properties and compositions, how they are purified and filtered, and some strategies for deconstructing them. “These polysaccharides are low-cost, abundant, renewable, and lightweight,” he said emphasizing on the valuable characteristics of these nanomaterials that could produce more sustainable products for the world.
In the open forum, Dufresne answered an inquiry about the safety of nanocrystals for nano-food applications. “There is no problem but it needs more investigation,” he said.
Biobased nanomaterials reinforced polymer nanocomposites
On the second day of the lecture series, Dufresne specifically discussed cellulose nanomaterials which he believed have great potential for the reinforcement of polymers. “Cellular nanomaterial modulus are potentially stronger than steel and are similar to Kevlar,” he said mentioning that the biggest advantage of nanocomposites is that they are light but strong.
Among the vast practical applications of cellulose nanocomposites are on pulp and paper, energy, cosmetics, films, detergents, packaging, textiles, communications, environment, etcetera.
Scientific literature and citations
On the last day, Dufresne shared general guidelines and tips on scientific writing, publication, and citation. “It is important to be published but more important to be cited,” he said emphasizing on the importance of having the research be read and referred by other researchers.
The final lecture began with the different parts of a scientific paper to choosing which journals new researchers could go for. He also discussed about the journal impact factor (IF) which is “used to evaluate and compare a journal’s relative importance to others in the same field” and the h-index which “attempts to measure both the predictability and impact of published works”.
Furthermore, he shared with the participants some citation databases—Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar—which they can use to check the h-index of the journals they target. “For me, it is better to have one research published in a big journal than to have five in a low-impact journal,” he said when asked if new researchers should go first for the high-impact journals or the ones with lower IF.
In his closing remarks, Razal expressed his gratitude for the attendance and participation of everyone and especially for Dufresne’s effort and time in traveling from France to the Philippines. “It is not very often to have a world expert come to the country to share his knowledge,” he said.