Two Filipinos Featured in Britannica’s 2022 “Shapers of the Future” List

The 2022 “Shapers of the Future” list has been announced by Britannica, including two ‘shapers’ from the Philippines.

The list includes young people who work in many fields and endeavors. They are scholars, builders, designers, architects, artists, teachers, writers, musicians, social and political leaders, and much more.

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The inclusion of two people from the Philippines in the Shapers of the Future list comes at the same time as Encyclopaedia Britannica donated 100 copies of its new one-volume children’s encyclopedia to the National Library of the Philippines. The books are to be made available through public libraries and bookmobile operations that serve remote areas of the country. The Britannica All New Kids Encyclopedia, edited by world history author Christopher Lloyd, is a richly illustrated 424-page compendium of knowledge to satisfy curious minds, packed full of reliable facts from the experts at Encyclopaedia Britannica. Unlike old encyclopedias that were structured from A–Z, this one has a narrative arc, telling the story of the world from the beginning of time to the present day and even glimpsing into the future.

In a statement, the National Library of the Philippines said, “The Britannica All-New Kids’ Encyclopedia will pique Filipino children’s interest and instil a love of reading at a young age. Thank you for supplying us with this beautiful 1-volume encyclopedia that will encourage our children to become keen readers and consumers of information.”

“Britannica is thrilled to support the Philippines National Library to promote the reading habits of our younger learners and establish the foundation for lifelong learning,” said Theodore Pappas, executive editor of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Our children’s encyclopedia is a wonderful book for early learners — for sparking their curiosity about the wonders of the world, both big and small — and for readers in areas without easy access to the Internet or to new educational resources.”

Shapers of the Future from the Philippines

After attending an elementary school for gifted children and the Singapore American School, 18-year-old Maria Isabel Layson returned to her native Iloilo City, in the Philippines, and enrolled in an advanced science curriculum at the National High School there. While studying an abundant berry locally called aratiles or sarisa in a Food and Nutrition Research Institute laboratory in Manila, Layson discovered that the fruit contains antioxidant compounds that combat diabetes. In 2019, when she was 16, she presented her findings at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona, as one of a dozen Filipino delegates. That year she won Best Individual Research in Life Science at the National Science and Technology Fair hosted by the Philippines Department of Education. Layson is now a student at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Iloilo City, where she also operates a bakery that makes keto-friendly pastries.

Layson is joined by Rodney Perez (~32-years-old). Also a native of the Philippines, Rodney Perez studied food science at Visayas State University, on the island of Leyte, and then won a scholarship to Kyushu University, in Japan, where he earned an M.S. in bioscience and biotechnology and a Ph.D. in microbial technology. His specialty as a researcher at the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños is the study of bacteriocins, naturally occurring toxins that can kill related strains of bacteria implicated in food poisoning and spoilage. Perez is now working on technologies to introduce these bacteriocins as part of food packaging processes—for instance, replacing artificial and potentially harmful steroids in dairy products with helpful bacteria from lactic acid that combat mastitis in cattle. Perez has received several honors for his work, including the Young Asian Biotechnologist award from Japan’s Society for Biotechnology. He is the first Filipino to have earned that vaunted international prize. Perez has expressed his intent to bring microorganisms to bear on other health-related problems in his country. “With microbial technologies we are able to make these tiny microorganisms work for us.”

Congratulations to them!

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