MSU System Enters Partnership Agreement with State University of New York-Environmental Science and Forestry

Based on the Report of Atty. Renato S. Pacaldo, Ph.D, Professor, Mindanao State University-Main Campus, Marawi City Acting Executive Director, International Affairs and Linkages Office

Parallel to the ongoing initiatives of the administration of President Habib Macaayong to link the MSU system to the international academic and research communities, the President signed the partnership agreement with the State University of New York (SUNYESF) at Syracuse, New York State, USA on July 18, 2019. The SUNY ESF was represented by President David Amberg, and Asst. VP Donald Artz, who is representing the SUNY ESF Research Foundation. The signing was witnessed by Christopher Nomura, VP for Research of SUNY ESF and Atty. Renato Pacaldo, Executive Director of International Affairs and Linkages Office, MSU System. The signing ceremony was also attended by Pamela Macaayong, Marilou Resmori Morishige, President of MSU Alumni Association, North American Chapter, Prof. Timothy A. Volk, Director of SUNY ESF Willow biomass project, and other officials of SUNY ESF.

The Memorandum of Agreement stipulated the following areas of collaboration: Joint development and implementation of research activities and product development on tropical and subtropical environments and renewable energy and related fields in a manner that will be mutually agreed upon by both parties; Provision of technical advice in research, innovation and product development on tropical and subtropical environments and renewable energy and related fields; Collaborations on seminars, symposiums, conferences and training programs on tropical and subtropical forest ecosystem and conservation and other related fields; Joint publication of articles, reports, and other scientific materials; Exchange of research information, publications, materials and knowledge; Exchange of research faculty, staff and student assistants; and Other forms of research and scientific cooperation as may be mutually agreed upon by both Parties.

During the roundtable discussion, the President raised the following potential areas of research collaboration:

Biomass Research Project. MSU is planning to establish the first biomass research center in the country to address the scientific knowledge gaps related to the sustainability of the production system. Biomass, which is a source or renewable energy, has been considered as a tool to mitigate the CO2 emissions from CO2 polluting industries, such as coal power plants and cement industries. This is parallel to the government policies to promote clean energy sources to mitigate climate change impacts. SUNY-ESF is in the best position to help MSU in realizing this project considering that it is the leading HEIs in United States and North America in biomass production, particularly shrub willow biomass crops.

Carbon Sequestration Research Projects. Carbon sequestration is one of the famous words usually quoted in climate change forums as a tool to counter the increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. However, limited knowledge products have been generated along this area of research. The MSU, through the College of Forestry and Environmental Studies has been actively partnering with the National Power Corporation in conducting carbon sequestration studies in its reforestation initiatives. With the promising results obtained in this project, the SUNY ESF wanted to explore deeper studies related to this subject, which is one of the focus of discussion with Dr. Timothy Volk.

Mining Rehabilitation and Restoration Project. MSU is also planning to lead in research related to mining rehabilitation and restoration, which is a major environmental issue in the country. Open pit mining, which is the most commonly employed mining practice among mining industries, has been causing destruction on the landscape; hence, it needs to be rehabilitated and restored. Although mining companies have been doing initiatives in restoration of vegetation, these initiatives remain fragmented due to lack of an overarching research center to focus on this area of research.

Watershed Management and Hydrology Research Projects. The MSU Main campus is setting within the watershed area of Lake Lanao, which is the biggest inland lake in the country, and providing about 65% of the power energy in Mindanao. This is a critical watershed due to its role in power generation. Unfortunately, we have limited studies on hydrology and watershed management characterization, which needs to be addressed through joint research with SUNY-ESF scientists who are world class known experts.

Fisheries and Ecotourism Research. Taking into account the strength of MSU system in fisheries and other aquaculture related researches, the MSU identified this research area as one of the focus of joint research and academic exchanges. SUNY ESF has a very strong fisheries programs with state-ofthe art facilities and equipment.

Environmental Sciences and Engineering Research. Some of the solutions to mitigate climate change impacts are soft and hard engineering infrastructures. SUNY ESF is one of the leading environmental schools in US with strong research in environmental sciences and engineering, which could support the MSU’s environmental sciences and environmental engineering degree programs, both at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Other points of discussion include academic exchanges, joint conferences, seminars, and short-term training courses. The details of these programs shall be defined as the partnership moves forward. The first agreed engagement is the hosting of international conference on Environment and Mining Rehabilitation and Restoration in which SUNY ESF expressed its desire to participate as resource speakers in the conference. The tentative schedule of this conference will be on the second week of March 2020, which is to be spearheaded by the MSUMain campus. As of this time, Prof. Renato Pacaldo and Prof. Timothy Volk has been preparing biomass research project proposal, which will be a joint research project between MSU and SUNY ESF.

The SUNY ESF is the oldest and one of the top rank environmental schools in United States.

It is where Atty. Renato Pacaldo, Chancellor Mary Joyce Sali, Former EVP Datumanong Saranggani, and Former Chancellor Proserfina Gomez took their Doctoral Degree programs. The signing of this MoU opened the opportunity for the faculty and students of MSU System to study in this prestigious environmental school in USA.

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