by Maria Celina Bernardo and Dominique Marrielle Lapinid
“A good teacher and a good researcher.” Dr. Maribel L. Dionisio-Sese answered when asked what she wants people to know about her first.
Dr. Dionisio-Sese, a botany professor from the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) – College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) – University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), knew early on what profession she wanted to pursue. Inspired by her elementary teacher, Dr. Dionisio-Sese dreamed of becoming a teacher someday.
She got into botany simply because she excelled in it and did not want to go with the commonly chosen fields such as accountancy, finance, and banking. She wanted to stand out and be unique, which she was able to accomplish. A cum laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Botany from UPLB, Dr. Dionisio-Sese also finished her master’s degree in botany in the same university. In 1990, she specialized in plant physiology for her doctorate degree at the University of Tokyo.
She has been a recipient of fellowship grants, for instance as post-doctoral fellow at the Marine Biotechnology Institute of Japan, as visiting research fellow at the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, and as Alexander von Humboldt research fellow in Germany.
Some of her students say that her exams are difficult. Nevertheless, she still receives very good evaluation from students. She was given the Outstanding Teacher Award in Biological Sciences by UPLB and the Distinguished Alumna Award for Instruction by UPLB-CAS Alumni Association in 2010. Though she prefers not to change her way of constructing exams, she always tries to teach her subjects better. She expects her students to know more and be updated as they already have access to new learning technologies and information sources.
She has also been an adviser, committee member, dissertation reader, and an external examiner. A junior and senior author of books and monographs, she has written wholly, or in part, more than 12 lecture syllabi or laboratory manuals on introductory botany and plant physiology.
Aside from being a teacher, Dr. Dionisio-Sese is also an administrator. In February 2004, she served as the officer-in-charge at the College Secretary’s Office of CAS and was appointed as the College Secretary from March 1, 2004 to November 30, 2006. She also served as head of the Plant Biology Division of IBS from June 1, 2010 to May 31, 2012. Since June 1, 2012, she has served as Director of the UPLB Interactive Learning Center.
A multi-awarded scientist
Dr. Dionisio-Sese has done many researches about plant/microalgal physio-biochemical responses to abiotic stress, algal physiology and biochemistry, regulation of photosynthetic enzyme induction and characterization of plant photoreceptors.
For the important contributions of her research, the then 34-year-old Assistant Professor III was recognized in 1995 as Outstanding Young Scientist in Plant Physiology by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). In 2003, she was named the Distinguished Alumna Awardee in Basic Research by the UPLB-CAS Alumni Association and Outstanding Researcher by IBS-UPLB in 2008. Recently, Dr. Dionisio-Sese has also been given the title UP Scientist I.
In addition, she was the recipient of various professorial chair awards such as the Jose R. Velasco Professorial Chair in Botany (2002), the SEARCA Professorial Chair (2008), the UPLB Centennial Professorial Chair (2010), and the UPLB Diamond Jubilee Professorial Chair (2012).She is also a prolific author, having published more than 20 articles in international refereed journals, which made her a recipient of the International Publication Awards from the University of the Philippines System since 1999.
For her professional achievement, she was awarded Distinguished Alumna of CAS, UPLB in 2012. She was also given the Outstanding Botanist Award during the 2010 Botany Centennial Celebration of IBS.
As a role model
“Do the best that you can. In everything you do, try to do the very best,” advises Dr. Dionisio-Sese. She inspires her students and young professionals in the way she handles and carries herself in and outside the classroom. She makes sure that she teaches to the best of her abilities.
Indeed, Dr. Dionisio-Sese’s work in the last 31 years has been a testament to her being a good teacher and a good researcher, and even more.