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UP Mindanao Professor Hailed Best Mentor in Health Research by DOST-PCHRD

Professor May Anne Mata of the University of the Philippines Mindanao has been honored as the 2023 Best Mentor in Health Research – National Winner in the Graduate Students Category by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development during their 42nd Anniversary celebration. 

Dr. Mata’s recognition comes after her commitment to mentoring both graduate and undergraduate students with at least 15 graduate and 15 undergraduate students under her wing.

In an interview, Dr. Mata expressed gratitude for the award, acknowledging the unexpected nature of the recognition given her primary expertise in mathematics and computational tools rather than direct health sciences. 

“I am deeply honored and truly grateful to be recognized. This award is not only a personal achievement but a testament to the powerful synergy between different fields of study and how they can collectively advance health research,” she said. 

Professor Mata revealed that her journey into mentoring was inspired by the exemplary guidance she received during her academic pursuits. Recalling her PhD studies focused on the recurrence of the avian influenza epidemic, she highlighted the profound impact mathematical tools could have on understanding and solving complex health challenges. 

When asked about the significance of mentorship in advancing health research in the Philippines, Dr. Mata emphasized its critical role. 

“Mentorship is absolutely key to pushing forward health research here in the Philippines. Having strong mentors not only passes on knowledge but also adapts it to our local context, leading to breakthroughs that can influence public health policies and patient care,” Dr. Mata asserted. 

To aspiring mentors, Prof. Mata offered invaluable advice, emphasizing the importance of valuing mentees, practicing empathy, fostering collaboration, and providing consistent encouragement.   

“It’s crucial to be intentional about valuing your mentees while keeping your eyes on the ultimate goal: improving global health,” she advised.

“Encourage a culture of collaboration rather than competition. Health research flourishes on diverse ideas and interdisciplinary approaches, and fostering this environment will only enhance the contributions your mentees can make to the field,” Dr. Mata added. 

The Best Mentor in Health Research Award is offered biennially to recognize and reward mentors in health research who have built the capacities of researchers in the health sector and, in the process, propelled significant advances in the Philippine National Health Research System’s thrusts as identified in the National Unified Health Research Agenda. (Written by Vener Zygmond Rebuelta)

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