IWEP congratulates its major student, Mark Jave A. Bautista for winning the 2021 LeadsAgri Best Undergraduate Thesis (BUT) in Plant Pathology. Let us get to know how he came to love Agriculture and Plant Pathology, his thesis journey, and what are in store for him now and in the future.


Road to Agriculture and Plant Pathology


Just like in a disease triangle that includes favorable environment as one of the important components, a motivating circumstance coupled with encouraging people around him pushed Jave to pursue Agriculture. Biological Science is a field that excites Jave since his high school years. His dream was to land in a course related to this. With reinforcement from his mother, Jave was able to pass the UPCAT and enroll to BS Agriculture program.

His fascination in Plant Pathology was rooted from taking-up basic crop protection and pest management courses. Learning about bacteria and fungi was something that thrilled him. Every class discussion with his Plant Pathology instructors and professors gradually inspired Jave to dwell in the field, especially in the molecular aspect of his major.

Thesis journey

His interest on molecular Plant Pathology led him to enlist under the supervision of Dr. Edna Y. Ardales. As recommended by Dr. Ardales, Jave applied for a scholarship grant from DA-BAR and was accepted. He was also fortunate to be a BS Thesis Research affiliate and scholar of the Rice Breeding Innovations Platform (RBIP) of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) where he conducted most of his thesis works under the guidance of Dr. Jeanie Telebanco-Yanoria.

Jave’s thesis is titled “Genetic and pathogenic variability of rice false smut pathogen (Ustilaginoidea virens Cke. Tak.) in the Philippines,” a highly relevant and promising topic as false smut is one of the economically important disease in rice and is not extensively studied. Jave believed that he and false smut pathogen seemed to be really meant-to-be.  He worked on this pathogen during his Special Problem course and was also assigned to report on this pathogen on another Plant Pathology course. When he learned that this was the topic recommended by IRRI, Jave felt relieved and even more excited.

His journey on accomplishing his thesis was not a smooth one. Aside from being challenged by the pathogenicity test, the DNA profiling, finger printing, phenotyping, and other molecular analyses called for late nights at the laboratory. Even the manuscript writing brought challenges and sleepless nights. In spite all these, Jave is grateful to have Dr. Ardales as his adviser.

“Kay Ma’am Edna talaga po ako nagpapasalamat din. She has always been supportive, lifting me up kapag kailangan ko na[ng] magpacheck at magpaconsult. She always made time kahit pa buong tanghali akong andun sa office niya.”

On winning the BUT in Plant Pathology


It took Jave almost two years to finish the experiment and manuscript. All of the efforts seemed to be worth it as he was hailed as the LeadsAgri BUT in Plant Pathology, recognized by Philippine Phytopathological Society, Inc. and the Pest Management Council of the Philippines, Inc. (PMCP) during the 53rd PMCP Anniversary and Annual Scientific Conference held on July 6-7 via a virtual platform. This award was competed over by a number of undergraduate students from different state universities and colleges all over the Philippines.


Moving forward

After graduation, Jave continued his research endeavors as he held a research associate position at IWEP. Currently, he is back to his beloved RBIP in IRRI where he works as a researcher on a project on rice blast resistance. On the side, he still pursues additional studies on false smut.

Opportunities for Jave seems to be endless. Truth be told, he has also been accepted to receive the David Sainsbury International MSc Scholarship under the program MS Global Plant Health from The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, United Kingdom. He is just completing the required documents and he is off to fly to take his Master’s Degree.

Way to go, Jave! Indeed, this year’s BUT is an epitome of hard work, dedication, and humility. His passion in research and continuous learning will surely lead him to brighter future. May Jave serve as inspiration to fellow Iskolar ng Bayan.

Jave leaves one of his go-to sayings from Roy T. Bennett, “Great things happen to those who do not stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.”

Prepared by: CHR Tabernilla

Photo source: PMPC Website

First published in Aggie Green and Gold Newsletter