National Scientist Bienvenido Juliano dies at age 81

The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) has announced that National Scientist Bienvenido O. Juliano, a known Filipino expert on organic chemistry, died on Wednesday, February 21. He was 81.

Juliano was known for his outstanding contributions to chemistry and technology of rice and rice food products, which rationalizes breeding strategies for rice grain quality all throughout the world; his extensive and primary research works on rice starch and its constituents; and for his enviable capacity to train many scientists from the national rice programs of many countries and other segments of the academe.

His important research activities in collaboration with scientists in related disciplines had produced socio-economic impact among the rice-eating countries of the world.

Spanning 32 years working as a chemist, Juliano worked for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) from 1961 to 1993 as in charge of grain quality research, where he contributed much to the basic knowledge in differences between varieties of grain quality of rice.

He demonstrated that the amylose (a linear polymer made up of D-glucose units) content of starch determines the quality of milled rice in Asia.

In addition, he also delved into the nutritional quality of rice and formulated an innovative and improved methods for grain quality evaluation.

He was author and co-author of more than 370 scientific papers on rice chemistry and quality and technology and rice in human nutrition and compiled essential data on world rice.

He edited and contributed to several chapters of the 2nd edition of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) monograph “Rice Chemistry and Technology” in 1985, wrote “Rice in Human Nutrition” for FAO in 1993, and “Rice Chemistry and Quality” for PhilRice in 2003.

He was an M.S. and Ph.D. theses adviser to several scholars, fellows and research assistants, a number of postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists who did research in his laboratory.

He also produced competent IRRI laboratory trained chemists from national rice breeding programs of many countries.

Considered a world authority on rice grain quality, Juliano has been recipient of many awards and citations, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award in Science in 1964, the Jose P. Rizal Pro Patria Award for Rice Chemistry in 1976, the Japanese Society of Starch Science Medal of Merit in 1982, the Thomas B. Osborne Medal Award from the AACC in 1988, the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) National Researcher Award in Physical Sciences in 1993, and the ASEAN Outstanding Scientist and Technologists Award in 1998, among others.

In 2004, he was included in the Institute of Scientific Information Highly Cited Researchers. He is in the Editorial Board of Journal of Cereal Science and Food Reviews International.

Recognizing his important researches done at IRRI and in collaborative studies with scientists in related disciplines, he was elected member of NAST in 1979 and eventually National Scientist in 2000.

Juliano completed his undergraduate degree in B.S. Agriculture from the University of the Philippines Los Baños magna cum laude (1955). He finished his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the Ohio State University in 1958 and 1959, respectively. He was the youngest Ph.D. graduate of the university at the age of 22.

His research activities and collaborative initiatives with other scientists in the field provided an in depth physicochemical analysis of rice grain quality being requisite to the improvement of rice grain productivity.

The augmented grain quality led to an increase national welfare by raising the value of rice to either consumers or producers leading to expanded market, improved quality of products, and development of new rice products.

Improved quality and shelf-life of selected rice food products has also added market value particularly for export into targeted markets, thus allowing more efficient competition in the world market.

Upon retirement, he was senior consultant at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Los Baños since his voluntary retirement from IRRI in June 1993.

State necrological services will be held on February 24 at 10:00 AM in St. Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel, Los Baños, Laguna.