Friday, October 20, 2017

CUMAGUN TAKES CENTER STAGE

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 Dr. Christian Joseph Cumagun’s good looks and patented smile will not deceive you. In spite of his many accomplishments, he remains a low profiled person, achiever and a good family man. Among friends and colleagues, he is a “prolific researcher,” “mentor,” “teacher,” and “a multi-awarded scientist”. Of great significance for those in the practice of plant pathology, Dr. Cumagun is synonymous with fungal population genetics and molecular plant pathology; his contributions in this field can only be described as beneficial and lasting.

Dr. Cumagun received his B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines Los Baños with honors in Agriculture in 1993, and at the same institution he completed his M.S. degree in Plant Pathology in 1998. He then went to Copenhagen, Denmark as UNESCO/ICSU/TWAS fellow in the basic sciences at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University from 1999- 2000.

He was awarded a fellowship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) from 2000-2004 and completed his degree as Doktor der Agrarwissenschaft from the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany as magna cum laude in 2004. Five years later, he went to Kobe University, Japan as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

He assumed his first position as an instructor at the College of Agriculture at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, where he launched his highly productive and distinguished academic career.

He became assistant professor from 1999-2006 then associate professor from 2007-2008 and subsequently became the Head of the Crop Protection Biotechnology Division of the Crop Protection Cluster and at the same time as Secretary of the College of Agriculture. He became associate dean of the College of Agriculture from 2008-2009 and 2011-2015.

In 2014, he assumed his current position as Professor 12 . He was also visiting scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich in 2013, a visiting professor at UNESP, Campus de IIha Solteria, Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2014 and at the same time a part-time lecturer at the Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Kobe University, Japan.

Dr. Cumagun is a student-centered educator to his fellows and young faculty. He considers teaching as the noblest profession. “Your influence as a teacher will continue, the knowledge that you impart will influence their (students) lives”, he says. He also adds that, “a teacher can even influence by giving a simple recommendation during their application for work or further studies”. Beginning with his first post as an instructor and his current position as Professor 12, he has taught undergraduate courses in crop protection, pest management, plant disease control, postharvest pathology, and research methods in plant pathology and agriculture, to name a few. To date, he has supervised/ graduated 17 undergraduate students, 5 MS students and 2 PhD students. In addition, he has served as chair of the College Curriculum Committee and facilitated the offering of Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Biotechnology to address the decline of agriculture students in the university. 

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Dr. Cumagun has received numerous international and national awards and honors even up to this date while writing this report. He is one of the five awardees of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in agriculture presented by the Junior Chamber International in 2008. He was conferred as UP Scientist III in 2014-2016 prior to his conferment as UP Scientist I and II in 2008-2010 and in 2011-2013, respectively. His recent awards include, the British Mycological Society International Mycological Congress Bursary Award in 2014, International Society for Plant Pathology Travel Award in 2013, Eusebio Y. Garcia Award in Molecular Biology and Pathology presented by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) in 2013, DOST Outstanding Research and Development Award-Eduardo Quisumbing Medal in 2012, Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) in Agricultural Science presented by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) in 2007, In addition, he was granted Professorial Chair awards by: the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (2014), SEARCA Professorial Chair Lecture (2008), Metro Manila Commission Professorial Chair Lecture (2007) and Vicente Sinco Professorial Chair Lecture (2006). He recently received the UPLB Outstanding Researcher award for Natural Sciences Discipline.

Cumagun has likewise made significant contributions through service on a number of editorial boards of international and national journals. In 2015, he served as reviewer of several journals including the Journal of Applied Microbiology (John Wiley and Sons), Food Biotechnology (Taylor and Francis), Phytopathology and Plant Disease. (American Phytopathological Society and Brazilian Journal of Microbiology).

He previously served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Tropical Plant Pathology in 2007-2009 and now he is the current editor-inchief of the Philippine Agricultural Scientist (PAS). Furthermore, he has served or serves on numerous honor societies, scientific organizations and committees including The World Academy of Sciences, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, Mycological Society of the Philippines and Philippine Phytopathological Society, to name a few.

P E R S O N A L L Y …

Born into a family with Ilocano and Batangueno roots, Dr. Cumagun grew in Lipa, Batangas. His father is a visual artist and his mother is a businesswoman who’s into baking sweet goodies. At age 5, his artistic talent in painting showed up winning for him several awards during his childhood.

His artworks have shown how inclined he is into science as depicted by the sugarcane planters in Lipa, Batangas in particular wherein his painting was displayed at Yokohama Museum in Japan. As a young boy, too, Dr. Cumagun considered Dr. Jose Rizal as a role model and an inspiration and still believe in his saying that “The youth is the hope of our future”.

According to him, the youth should not limit themselves in acquiring knowledge and education and to use their capabilities, talents and skills to stand out not only for themselves but also for the country. He also visited the place in Germany where Rizal stayed and wrote his book, Noli Me Tangere. Cumagun is an active member of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He acts as a bishop of the said congregation who conducted missionary works to bring His teachings to life at home, work, and in communities and help the needy especially during calamities.

Being in the academe for more than two decades, Dr. Cumagun still considers staying in the university to teach and do research and collaborate with international agencies and organizations but he is not also closing his doors for other opportunities that will come along. He added that even if he retires from the academe, he will continue with science works by writing books, manuals, and other related things. —--