Meet Dave Buenavista, Newton Fund grant awardee.

Research topic: Ethnobotanical Knowledge and Nutraceutical Potentials of Indigenous Plants Utilized by the Local Communities of Mindanao, Philippines

Host institution / UK university: Bangor University

Home institution: Central Mindanao University

Degree programme: PhD Conservation Biology

Describe your PhD research in layman’s terms.

My PhD research revolves around two things: indigenous peoples and plants. My project explores how the local plant resources intertwined with indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP) may contribute to food security and well-being of marginalized communities as well as in the conservation of remaining forest in Mindanao highlands. I am also interested in the potential benefits of the underutilized plants for developing additional livelihood programs in these indigenous communities.

What is the relevance of your study to the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

My study focuses on the economic potentials of locally available plant resources in the underserved communities in Mindanao. Diverse bio-cultural landscapes have been important reservoir of understudied plants that sustain many indigenous populations. My research includes the social and ecological dimensions of indigenous people’s knowledge on food plants, traditional medicine, construction materials, community livelihoods, and indigenous practices. These are important components of biocultural identity, resiliency, and well-being of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines.

How do you envision your UK education can contribute to your future career as a researcher?

At Bangor University, I am fortunate to meet world-leading scientists and inspiring researchers who generously shared their time and expertise. My project is interdisciplinary in nature and so, it expanded my knowledge beyond my training in botany and taxonomy. This became an additional learning opportunity for me to be likewise engaged in the fields of social and environmental sciences. In the future, I would like to collaborate with other international researchers who desire to do research in the Philippines and wider Asia.

How has the commitment of the UK in science and technology influence your decision in choosing the Newton Fund?

The pool of research experts in the UK is one fascinating aspect why I choose the Newton Fund. UK supports many world-leading scientists in various institutions and research centres and attending one of the leading universities in Wales has been an exceptional experience.