Rex B. Demafelis: The New Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension

  • Written by  Regina Mae C. Ongkiko
  • Published in Features
Rex B. Demafelis: The New Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension © OVCRE/Regina Mae C. Ongkiko

It is the 2nd UPLB REPS Conference at the Nicolas P. Lansigan Auditorium, College of Forestry and Natural Resources. A few minutes left before the program starts, and we receive word that the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension cannot make it for the opening remarks. He is confi ned in the University Health Service. Th e committee members talk about how they can adjust the program, when suddenly, there he is. Vice Rex B. Demafelis is walking towards them, dressed formally in neatly pressed polo and slacks, his trademark smile on his face. He looks like what he usually looks like on a normal weekday— except for the blue handkerchief wrapped around his right wrist, hiding the IV tube. Yes, he has made it in time to deliver the opening remarks because of a waiver. With the committee worried, and the participants anxious, Vice Rex only has one thing in mind: to make the most of the two hours.

Dedicated. Passionate. Inspiring. These are just a few of the words that the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE)staff used to describe Vice Rex .Aside from these traits, he is also known for his enigmatic smile, which always brings a lighter mood even to the most stressful of meetings.

Rex B. Demafelis is the new Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension eff ective 01 November 2014. He succeeded Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, whose appointment as Vice Chancellor ended last 31 October 2014.

The road that led him to UPLB 

Vice Rex grew up in Iloilo City where he graduated cum laude from the University of San Agustin, Iloilo City with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He went to UP Diliman where he got his Master’s Degree also in Chemical Engineering.

He started teaching at UPLB in 1984 and is now a Professor at the Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering and Agro- industrial Technology (CEAT).

Currently, his Ph.D in Environmental Science from UPLB is under completion. Indeed, he sets high goals even for himself.

The road to success 

Most of us are more or less familiar with his different accomplishments. He was the National President of the Philippine Institute of Chemical Engineers from 2004 to 2005. He also became a member of the Japan Society of Chemical Engineers and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers both in 1995, and he has been part of the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry of the Philippines since 1998.

Aside from these, he also has a number of prestigious awards such as the 2014 UPLB Outstanding Senior Researcher in Natural Sciences, the 2013 Outstanding Professional of the Year Award (by the Professional Regulation Commission), and the 2013 Outstanding Chemical Engineer of the Philippines Award (by the Philippine Institute of Chemical Engineers). In 2011, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) gave him the Outstanding Alumni in Chemical Engineering Award.

Vice Rex has helped to advance chemical engineering in the Philippines through his research projects on biofuels and alternative energy. He also currently chairs the UPLB Interdisciplinary Biofuels Research Studies Center (UPLB-IBRSC).

Under his leadership, the 2015 Philippine International Biomass Conference was conducted last 16-18 June 2015 at the Widus Hotel, Clark Free Port Zone, Pampanga. Resource persons from the Philippines and from other countries spoke about the potential of biomass for energy production.

Vice Rex mentioned that he sees himself as a mentor. The way that he is dedicated to his projects and publications is the same when it comes to mentoring and training his staff.

Definitely, the road to success is not easy. He holds meetings until late in the evening, travels to different provinces and countries to meet with collaborators, even if he is actively teaching. He manages to do all of these even though he is now Vice Chancellor.

The road to being a globally competitive graduate and research university

Vice Rex supports the Chancellor's goal to become a globally competitive graduate and research university. He aims to drive the endeavors of OVCRE towards that direction. International linkages, effective marketing of technologies, promotion of research culture, and increase in publications are just a few of the goals OVCRE has set with him as the leader.

During the REPS Conference, Vice Rex stated in his welcome remarks that he wanted to know more about the situation of the REPS even though he is a faculty member. He called out to the participants to help him understand more.

Indeed, Vice Rex B. Demafelis is successful and accomplished. He is dedicated, passionate and inspiring. But the new Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension is exceptional because despite all these, his humility remains.