Dr. Marian De Leon is the new MNH director

Dr. Marian De Leon is the new MNH director Photo by Teddy Manansala

The University of the Philippines Los Baños Museum of Natural History (MNH) welcomes Dr. Marian P. De Leon, University Researcher II and Curator for Microbial Culture Collection, as its 12th director.

Before being appointed as MNH director, Dr. De Leon served as the museum’s research coordinator and biosafety officer. She succeeded Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez who served for two terms since 2015, and is also MNH’s Curator for Birds.

During the nominees’ Presentation of Visions, Plans, Programs and Priorities for MNH last 22 January, Dr. De Leon said that they are aiming for the “further development of core staff and curators in the areas of education, training, research and extension, and public service.”

Her priorities include the renovation of MNH building, refurbishment of exhibits, and improvement of workspace and facilities for museum staff. She also plans to strengthen external linkages toward resource generation, to develop disaster risk management and response plans, and to handle the transfer of skills and knowledge of expert staff and curators.

She is also eyeing the continuous digitization of museum collections, adoption of new approaches to improve specimen preservation and maintenance, human resource development activities for staff and curators, and increased support for staff and curators in their research activities.

Working at the museum for 25 years, Director De Leon started as a research associate back in 1996 for an MNH-based project before becoming a University Research Associate 1 the following year.

Aside from her publications in peer-reviewed domestic and international journals, Dr. Marian has led at least 24 research implementations on microbiology and microbial diversity of Philippine caves.

Dr. De Leon earned both her bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and master’s degree in Food Science at UPLB, while her PhD in Engineering was from Osaka University. Her fields of specialization and expertise also include biochemistry, and material and life sciences.

In 2008, she received special citation under the 2008 NAST Talent Search for Young Scientist Awards. Since 2018, she also holds certification as a Biorisk Officer from the National Training Center for Biosafety and Biosecurity.

Dr. De Leon was nominated alongside Dr. Leticia E. Afuang, Curator for Zoological and Wildlife Collection and Associate Professor 2 at the Animal Biology Division of the Institute of Biological Sciences at the UPLB College of Arts and Sciences.

Since its establishment in 1976, MNH continuously flourishes as a university-wide unit aimed at the “exploration, documentation and preservation of the Philippines’ biological diversity.” It is also a vital center for the “documentation, research, and information” of Philippine flora and fauna - housing more than 600,000 live and preserved specimens across its eight museum sections.

MNH is currently a supervised unit of the UPLB Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension.