Nat’l scientist Edgardo Gomez, pioneer in coral reef research, passes away

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2019 02:53 PM

National Scientist Edgardo Gomez has passed away, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced on Tuesday. He was 81,

The University of the Philippines, where Gomez was a professor emeritus, said the marine science expert died on Sunday evening.

Having done extensive research on marine ecosystems, Gomez is most known for leading the “world’s first national-scale assessment of damage to coral reefs that led to the widespread concern over the status of coral reefs.” 

DOST said his team’s research resulted in global conservation initiatives such as the Global Reefs and Risk Analysis, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, and the International Coral Reef Action.

Gomez also led efforts to replant corals and pioneered giant clam breeding to benefit coastal communities.

“One of his most notable works was his contributions in the baseline mapping of the Philippines to handle the highly-contested Spratly Islands and in the groundwork for the Archipelagic Studies Program that the UP System has established,” DOST said in its statement.

All of this, including his work as founding director of UP’s Marine Science Institute (MSI), led him to earning the title National Scientist, the highest honor given by the Philippine president to individuals with significant contribution to the fields of science and technology.

Less than a year after being declared national scientist, Gomez spoke at a Senate hearing, saying the Philippines should take some risks in asserting its claims over our territories in the South China Sea. 

He said the dispute with China affects not only fishermen but the overall maritime food production of the country. The Chinese are know to fish vigorously in the resource-rich waters.

Besides being a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines, he served as member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Western Society of Naturalists, World Mariculture Society, National Research Council of the Philippines, and the International Society for Reef Studies.

Among awards Gomez received were inclusion in the Global 500 Roll of Honour by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1989, the Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) in Science (Marine Biology) award from the Philippine Jaycees Senate in 1992, Outstanding Science Administrator from the Department of Science and Technology in 1996, Gregorio Y. Zara Award (Basic Science) from the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science in 1998, and the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award from the Philippine Civil Service Commission in 2000.

Gomez was born on November 7, 1938. He received his BA and BS Education, summa cum laude, from the De La Salle University in 1962, his MS in Biology from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, the United States in 1967 and his PhD in Marine Biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California in San Diego in 1973.