When Joey Mangadlao was chosen to represent the Philippines at the largest international science competition, it “was the big turning point in my life.” The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) changed the course of his career.
“By being one of the fortunate Filipino students able to join Intel ISEF, I saw that there’s a big community of scientists pursuing different fields,” he said. “This is totally new to me, especially since I’m from a very small and impoverished town in the Philippines.”
While presenting his research, the Intel ISEF 2005 finalist, realized he could be recognized for his contributions to science and maybe win a Nobel Prize in the future. Joey recently finished his Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
Joey became interested in science in elementary school, when a fellow high school student was chosen to compete in Intel ISEF.
“My parents are ordinary working class citizens and none of my relatives are science-inclined,” he said. “When I was in elementary school, I read an article from a local newspaper about a high school student who represented the Philippines at Intel ISEF. That sparked my interest in doing science.”
Since then, Joey graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. He has had 20 publications, with more articles to come, and plans to start his post-doc career by March. “Science is all about finding the truth by carefully studying the concepts that underlie certain phenomena,” he said.
His most important contribution during his Ph.D. career is the insight he helped produce on the antibacterial mechanism of graphene oxide (GO). GO is known to be antibacterial but its reported mode of action is controversial and still unknown. “My interest in studying bacteria or microbiology in general started while I was doing my project for Intel ISEF. Intel ISEF has prepared me well for grad school!” Joey said.
People in the Philippines don’t often become scientists, but the state of science is improving, according to Joey.
The Philippine government is now more supportive in terms of research. There are now more scholarships available for science and engineering students, he said.
“A significant number of young academicians who received their Ph.D.’s abroad are returning to the country to educate our young people,” Joey said. “I hope to do the same in the future.”
Intel ISEF really changed the course of Joey’s career path.
“By being one of the fortunate Filipino students able to join Intel ISEF in Arizona, I saw that there’s a big community of scientists pursuing different fields,” he said. “This is totally new to me, especially since I’m from a very small and impoverished town in the Philippines.”
For his Intel ISEF project, Joey explored the antibacterial properties of tetrodotoxin-rich organs of Puffer fishes in the Philippines. In his country, these fish are considered wastes, so it would be interesting to find high-value application like what he explored in his study.
Before Intel ISEF, he was set to pursue a career in nursing, with the hope that he could proceed to medicine afterwards. If not for Intel ISEF, Joey said he would probably be a medical doctor now. “There was no point that I regretted the path that I have chosen,” he said. “I sometimes refer to myself as the ‘Phake’ doctor to my friends. Kidding aside, I’m very happy with where I am now and I’m very excited for the future.”
At Intel ISEF I shook hands with Sally Ride, the first American woman in space! These are people I’m only able to read about in my textbooks.
Just like the Nobel Laureates that Intel ISEF invited, Joey realized that he could be recognized and perhaps win a Nobel Prize in the future. “During Intel ISEF, I also had the chance to shake hands with Sally Ride, the first American woman in space! These are people I’m only able to read about in my textbooks.”
Joey has several memorable moments from Intel ISEF 2005.
“Seeing and meeting prominent scientists like the Nobel Laureates, meeting new friends from other nations and having fun with the rest of the Philippine delegation, and winning 3rd Grand Award in the Microbiology, individual category.”