PSSST Thesis Grant 2024

Two graduating soil science students have been selected as one of the five recipients of this year’s thesis grant from the Philippine Society of Soil Science and Technology, (PSSST) Inc.

#ProudViscans Kent Iverson A. Sagusay and Kenn Welmarc V. Pide will each receive 20,000 pesos assistance from PSSST for their research studies.

They will be given the first PhP 15,000 through their thesis advisers as soon as they sign the Thesis Grant Contract with PSSST. Meanwhile, the remaining 5,000 pesos will be released after they submit their final thesis manuscript. This will also be their allowance as they will present their research results at the PSSST Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference next year.

PSSST is a non-stock, non-profit professional scientific organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its mission is to promote the advancement of soil science and technology in the country. 

Every year, the organization will allot four slots or more depending on the available funds to support undergraduate students specializing in soil science nationwide. This year, they selected five deserving students from Southern Luzon State University in Tiaong Campus, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University in La Union, Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon, and VSU.

Meet the two #ProudViscan thesis grantees of PSSST

Sagusay, 21, is from Minoyho, San Juan, Southern Leyte. When he saw the post about the call for thesis grant applications on PSSST’s official Facebook page, he and his classmates submitted their applications.

“The said grant was exclusive to Soil Science students and from what I've known, there are only [a] few students taking the Soil Science major throughout the country so I thought there'd be a greater chance of acceptance to this thesis grant. I, along with my classmates, immediately complied [with] the requirements and submitted them during the last day of submission.”

His thesis is entitled, “Characteristics of Alluvial Soils Along a Toposequence on the Bank of Marcasa River, San Juan, Southern Leyte." And he will be mentored by the longest-serving Dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Science and the top soil scientist in the Philippines, Dr. Victor B. Asio.

“My thesis focuses on the characterization of alluvial soils, which are soils that are developed from sediments deposited in floodplains, deltas, or riverbanks as a result of frequent occurrence of flooding in the past. I'll be studying the morphological, physical, chemical, and biological properties of these soils occurring on a toposequence and correlating their properties to determine the variability of texture, nutrient status, and microbial activity in relation to their proximity to the river—the Marcasa river—located in San Juan, Southern Leyte.” 

“My study aims to truly understand the significance of alluvial soils, not only to agriculture, but also to the environment by determining the existing trend on the aforementioned parameters and how the genesis, soil formation factors, and land management practices particular to the site influenced such findings,” he added.

Pide, 23, on the other hand, hails from Ponong, Bato, Leyte. He revealed that his classmates first informed him about the thesis grant from PSSST. A few days later, Dr. Suzette Lina, the Head of the Department of Soil Science, forwarded the post to their group chat of soil science majors and encouraged them to apply.

“So, I took the opportunity to try and apply for the thesis grant and complied with all the necessary documents and requirements.”

His study focuses on the “Effects of Soil Conditioners and VAM-Inoculation at the Early Stage of Growth of Abaca (Musa textilis Nee)”. He will be under the supervision of the Director of the National Abaca Reasearch Center, Dr. Romel B. Armecin.

“Essentially, my thesis aims to determine the effects of different types of soil conditioners such as vermicast, effective microorganisms, and such paired with vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM) in the form of biofertilizers to some micronutrient and macronutrient content of the abaca plants. I will be investigating if what combination of treatments have the best effects to abaca plants in the early stages of growth.”

While both of them are equally grateful for the opportunity to be selected as one of the PSSST thesis grantees across the country, this also challenges them to double their effort and hard work for their theses, especially that they will present it next year in a conference organized by PSSST.

“I had a short feeling of relief knowing that the financial burden of my thesis would be eased up. It was only short because after reading halfway through the email that I received from PSSST, Inc., I realized that I have to double my efforts on my thesis now because I have to present it next year. The fear of failure and disappointment got to me first; though this isn't the first time and it has become normal for me to have this kind of fear. I'll just have to go with the flow for now and stop feeding on people's expectations. But really, I am quite happy to be selected as one of the grantees,” Sagusay expressed.

Pide also felt the same concern with Sagusay, but it motivated him to focus more on his thesis.

“To be honest, I had low expectations because the thesis grant is open to all the soil science majors all over the Philippines, so it is kind of competitive. It also took several months before the announcement, so I thought I did not make it. However, when I received the email, I was shocked, dumbfounded, and happy at the same time because of all the applicants, I was chosen as one of the grantees. As I read through the email, I was also kind of pressured because it said that we are required to present our thesis paper during an annual conference of the PSSST that will be held next year. It became a wake-up call to me to really focus on my thesis and double efforts because this became more serious and challenging. Despite the pressure I felt, I was also relieved because of the financial support I would be receiving. I am grateful to be chosen as the grantee as this will help my financial burdens as conducting thesis can really cost a fair sum of money,” Pide shared. 

Aside from the financial support that they will receive from PSSST, Sagusay mentioned that it would be an opportunity for him to contribute to the scientific community that will hopefully make an impact to the country, especially in the field of agriculture and environment.

“Despite my dire need for financial assistance for my thesis, what excites me the most is not the money — it's the fact that I finally had the opportunity to make a huge contribution to the scientific community in the future. By sharing the knowledge that I've gained from my field of interest to the people who are inclined in agriculture and the environment, I hope to make a valuable change in these pivotal sectors in our country.”

“I'm really looking forward to the scientific conference next year. With the amount granted, hopefully, I'd be able to smoothen things up with the overall cost of my thesis. This would be a stepping stone towards attaining my long-term goal of contributing to the soil science paradigm.”

Pide also agreed with Sagusay, but he is excited to present his research findings at the national conference. 

“Apart from the financial support and the pressure I felt for the conference next year, I am actually also excited to present my contributions to the soil science community. This will be my very attendance at a national conference for soil science majors and my first paper presentation. I hope that the findings of my thesis after experimentation will have an impact on the agricultural industry especially in the use of biofertilizers. This would be a stepping stone for me as I journey towards becoming a soil scientist in the future.”

Both Sagusay and Pide expressed their gratitude to their thesis advisers and the members of their research committee and they are honored to be accorded the prestigious grant from PSSST to help them finish their undergraduate theses.

“I'd like to express my sincerest gratitude to my thesis adviser, Dr. Victor B. Asio, for guiding me on my thesis journey despite how busy his schedule is. None of this would be possible without him; after all, he is my role model and he inspire me to take this field. I'd also like to thank our department head, Dr. Suzette Lina, for endorsing us to the PSSST.  Also, to my SRC Chairperson and Member, Dr. Deejay Lumanao and Mr. Kenneth Oraiz, respectively, for sharing their expertise in polishing my thesis outline and helping me throughout the application process,” Sagusay emphasized.

"I am truly grateful to PSSST, Inc. for providing this program to encourage aspiring soil scientists like me to finish our studies and inspire others to appreciate this noble field. Last but not the least, I'd like to thank my family, relatives, friends, classmates, and other people who believed in me and tirelessly supported me all throughout my studies here at VSU,” he added. 

“First, I would like to thank my thesis adviser Dr. Romel B. Armecin, for his continuous guidance on my thesis journey and [for] answering my queries even if he is busy. I would also like to thank my SRC Chairperson, Dr. Suzette B. Lina for sharing her expertise and suggesting things for my thesis and for endorsing our application to the PSSST thesis grant. I would also like to thank Dr. Deejay Lumanao for also sharing her knowledge and her recommendations for my thesis outline,” Pide mentioned.

"I am also very grateful to my older brother, who is also an alumnus of the Soil Science Department here at VSU, Mr. John Lester V. Pide for all his financial support throughout my college journey and my thesis needs. Also, to Mr. Jotham Lloyd Alegre, who helped in proofreading my thesis outline. All of these would not be possible without the help of these people. And of course, I am very honored and grateful to PSSST, Inc. for creating this thesis grant program for all soil science majors and for believing that my thesis will have an impact on the soil science community. And lastly, I would like to thank my classmates, friends, family, and loved ones for being there and for their continuous support throughout my college journey. I would have not made it here without you.” 

When asked about their message to their fellow Viscans who are doing their theses, Sagusay highlighted that we have different means of facing a particular challenge. Pide, on the other hand, said that it is important to keep the hope despite the disappointment and challenges along the way.

“As we venture towards the end of our thesis journey, there will be times when we feel that things are unfair and these moments could be really draining — to the point that we could feel our soul getting drained and our minds being poisoned by regrets and doubts. These push us to our limits and tempt us to give up. And honestly, to say "never give up" is insensitive. We might be sailing on the same ocean, but we don't ride on the same boat — some ride on canoes and some on yachts — and we won't be docking on the same port. So, to my fellow Viscans who are currently working on their thesis, be it individual or by group, my advice is to ride your own tide and not let others' failure nor success be the flow of your own current. It's normal to give up. Just like the tides, there's ebb and flow. Give up a little, then rise back up. One day, the storms we've been through will lead us to the right shore,” Sagusay said.

“For all the seniors who are doing their thesis and/or research, this may be very generic but all I can say is that to “Never lose hope”. Doing research is a tedious and challenging process. You will face hardships, there is no other option. What’s important is to keep that hope up. To always believe that things will always be better, despite failures and disappointment. It is okay to step back and rest, but you should never lose sight of your goal. Keep fighting. And as they say, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and your struggles will only make you better in the end,” Pide shared.

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