Friday, March 15, 2024

In continuing partnerships with various institutions in implementing programs relevant to the attainment of the vision and mission of the University, the Isabela State University (ISU) in partnership with the University of Zurich (UZH) conducted a Training-Workshop on Research and Development, and Extension (RDE) on March 15, 2024 at the Climate Change Center, ISU-Echague.

The said workshop, in coordination with the Office of Public Relations, External Affairs, and International Linkages was attended by students and faculty members from the different campuses of the University such as Echague, Angadanan, San Mateo, and Cauayan among others.

With Lea Karrer (Graduate Student, UZH) and Seyed Sadegh Mostafavi (HEE-ISU Philippines Coordinator) as speakers, the workshop served as a platform to discuss policies and opportunities available for students that are interested in taking part in an exchange program in UZH.

“Let us embrace this workshop as a catalyst of change, a platform for innovation, and a celebration of the countless possibilities that lie ahead. Together, let us embark on this journey of exploration, discovery, and collaboration; and together, let us aim for a brighter and better, more sustainable future for all of us,” Dr. Jose P. Gallena, Jr. (Executive Officer, Echague Campus) expressed in his message as he welcomed the attendees of the event.

Project in focus

According to Mr. Mostafavi, the Human Evolutionary Ecology (HEE) research group of the UZH has partnered with ISU and the National Committee for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to build new tree nurseries to supply native seedlings and organize related courses to capacitate the Agta community in Palanan, Isabela.

When ready, the nurseries will also be utilized to grow cacao seedlings in the key areas of the Agta region, following Agroforestry principles and practices. One of the objectives of the project is to help Agtas transition to modernization through cultivating and keeping their ancestral land – lessening the probability of migration as hunter-gatherers.

On the other hand, Ms. Karrer shared that as part of her master’s thesis on knowledge transmission in play, she is currently on a field trip to conduct data gathering with the aforementioned community. She mentioned that by studying the Agtas, the academic community can discover the specifics of the time when all were hunter-gatherers, and can also infer the traits that are inherent in all humans despite cultural evolutions.

Internship Opportunities

With the on-going project, students of the University are invited for an internship under UZH mainly to analyze data from the Agta community using R, a software environment for statistical computing and graphics.

Four (4) students among all applicants will be chosen to participate in the 5-month internship, with the first three (3) months in a remote setup doing analysis, and the succeeding two (2) months to be continued on in Switzerland.

Students with background and interests in Agroforestry, GPS, hunter-gatherers, environment, and the Agta community are preferred, but all are welcome to apply as the program seeks to help students know what to do with data that are being collected.

Moving forward

An open forum followed the discussion of the speakers with questions from the faculty members on the security of students and policies on data gathering as main highlights.

Mr. Mostafavi responded that their group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NICP to allow them to gather data. He added that with the high potential of the University as a collaborator on research activities, there is an ongoing negotiation between ISU and NCIP to allow the University to gather data and work with the Agta community.

Atty. Romano P. Cammayo (Vice President, Administration and Finance Services) assured the security of the students by expressing that the University does not permit outside activities without the requirements and approval of the administration and the Commision on Higher Education (CHEd).

“The University of Zurich’s esteemed reputation and our own achievements at ISU gives us confidence that together, we will achieve remarkable milestones in our shared pursuits of academic excellence. As we part ways today, let us carry with us the spirit of collaboration and determination to make a meaningful impact in our respective fields,” Dr. Ma. Rita A. Reario (Campus ARA, Echague Campus) hoped as she send the delegates back to their respective campuses.