Nobel winner cites role of mentors in students' success

Manila Bulletin, April 7, 2008

A Nobel Peace Prize winner for Chemistry who is in the country to conduct dialogues with Filipino researchers and members of the academe underscored the important role of teachers and mentors in students' success in their chosen profession.

2004 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry Prof. Aaron Ciechanover said it is the way teachers and mentors taught their students which hone them to develop skills and thus help them achieve success in the future.

Teachers and mentors are critical in life. "You have to have very good teachers," he stressed.

Citing Nobel Prize winners as examples, Ciechanover said there was something in the type of apprenticeship they were able to grasp from their mentors which had been an element in their success.

He himself attributed his success as a scientist, researcher, professor and Nobel Prize winner to his former professors, who made him follow by example, not just teaching by the book but by experience.

Ciechanover disclosed that as a professor, he connects with his students through dialogues and group discussions.

From a single question, he said, they go bottom up to harness students' creativity in research. "We don't do the obvious," he said.

"It is very hard and dynamic, combined with gut feeling and experience," he added.

In a round table discussion (RTD) on mentoring earlier sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), particularly its National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), University of the Philippines (UP) College of Science Dean Caesar Saloma underscored the importance of mentoring in producing more MS and PhD graduates who would contribute in the country's economic development through scientific researches.

A supportive environment wherein researchers can develop, excel and locally compete at international standards is also needed.

For its part, the DoST is currently working on its human resource development (HRD) program, one is the scholarships in various S & T and engineering fields and another for its own personnel under the Advanced Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP).

The national government had already allotted 100-million for the ASTHRDP while 3 billion was pegged for the engineering R & D scholarship that will run up to 2010.

The said program includes the upgrading of S & T infrastructures. DoST aims to have 300 MS and PhD graduates all over the country by 2010 that would add to the current S & T manpower in the country.