The scientific community mourns the passing of Dr. Alonzo A. Gabriel, 39, a noted food scientist and professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Home Economics (CHE), owing to complications due to cancer.
A 2018 National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) Achievement Awardee of the Biological Sciences Division, Gabriel, specialized in food processing, microbiological food safety, and traditional and novel food technologies.
NRCP said in its announcement of his passing that Gabriel helped establish the Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Hygiene of UP Diliman, where he conducted a primary role in the generation and dissemination of knowledge and public service.
Dr. Ruby Cristobal of the Science Education Institute of the Department of Science and Technology told the BusinessMirror that Gabriel fought for the inclusion of MS Food Science in the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program scholarships being offered by the DOST-SEI.
The scholarship was approved and is now offered for the first semester of 2020-21.
In a DOST-SEI video clip, Gabriel, who do research in food safety on disease-causing microorganisms to prevent food-borne illnesses, was quoted as saying: “It’s very important that we know how to question. It’s more important than knowing how to answer questions. You can’t just answer any question. You have to answer questions that are relevant to society.”
Gabriel was a member of various professional societies, including the Saint Gallen of Japan, European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (Germany) and the International Association for Food Protection (USA). He served as president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology Inc. (PSMI), UPD said in its web site announcing Gabriel’s passing.
“He showed exceptional leadership in guiding the society and bringing its officers and members closer together. He was known and respected for his achievements in research particularly in Food Science,” PSMI posted on his untimely demise at its Facebook page.
Gabriel obtained a PhD in Bio-functional Science and Technology (Food Microbiology and Hygiene) from Hiroshima University in Japan.
His 2014 research study, “Decimal reduction times of acid-adapted and non-acid adapted Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and Listeria monocytogenes in young Cocus nucifera Linn. liquid endosperm” provided food manufacturers with scientific bases on how to safely process their juice and food products. His study helped in implementing the Food Safety Act of 2013.
In relation to the coconut water study, Gabriel said that at CHE and Department of Food Science and Nutrition: “We do not just teach our students textbook lessons, we teach them cutting edge knowledge that we establish in our research works and make them competitive with the manpower the rest of the world is producing.
“We teach them the value of going out to the community to address real-world problems that the Filipino family faces every day. We also go out to the community and share whatever resources we develop in our laboratory/research works to stakeholders, especially the marginalized and underserved.”
Gabriel received recognitions for his works, including being one of the 2017 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos awardees. He used part of his monetary incentive to support the DFSN in developing an extension program for secondary and tertiary home economics educators teaching food science and technology.
He has also been recognized with the following awards: the 2016 UPD Gawad Tsanselor Para sa Natatanging Guro; the 2016 International Award for Young Agricultural Researchers by the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences; The 2016 DOST Outstanding Research Development Award for Applied Research (Julian A. Banzon Medal); the 2014 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World from the Junior Chamber International (JCI TOYP);
The 2014 Gregorio Y. Zara Award for Applied Research of the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science; the 2013 International Union of Food Science and Technology Young Scientist Excellence Award; the 2013 The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines for Food Science and Technology; and the 2013 National Academy for Science and Technology Young Scientist Award (for the field of Microbiology and Hygiene).
The Senate of the Philippines honored Gabriel in 2014 through Senate Resolution 875 when he received the 2014 JCI TOYP Award.