Dr. Maribel G. Nonato, Vice Rector for Research & Innovation at the University of Sto. Tomas, recently received the Dr. Gregorio Y. Zara Award for doing groundbreaking research on the genus Pandanus. The award was conferred by the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology (PhilAAST) headed by DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.
Prior to her research, little was known about pandan. Her research led to the discovery of new secondary metabolites with new biological activities, which is the basis for its medicinal attributes. With her breakthrough discovery, researchers in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand undertook similar research on their respective Pandanus species.
There are about 450 species of the genus Pandanus, 20 of which are found in the Philippines.