Meet Francis Legario, Newton Fund grant awardee.

Research topic: Investigating Infectious Bacterial Diseases Affecting Farmed Tilapia in the Philippines

Host institution / UK university: University of Stirling

Home institution: Iloilo Science and Technology University

Degree programme: PhD Aquaculture

Describe your PhD research in layman’s terms.

My PhD research is about the infectious bacterial diseases affecting farmed tilapia in the Philippines. The study will investigate into what pathogenic bacteria cause disease outbreaks or mass mortalities which lead to aquaculture losses. Moreover, it will examine the different risk factors that may play important role in disease development/progression. These bacteria will be characterized using conventional and advanced molecular techniques for future health disease management in tilapia industry.

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

Aquaculture is a livelihood of many rural communities and contributes towards food security, employment and socio-economic status in the Philippines. Further research is required to secure a sustainable aquatic food sector, which supports social and economic growth for the country. Diseases can induce production losses at the farm level, thus impacting overall food security. Results of the study will be translated into the development of diagnostic tools, preventive and control measures for disease outbreak, interventions, and treatment strategies/options. These will reduce production losses thus supporting the country’s over-all aquaculture industry cycle such as feed production, fry and hatchery operations, and other aquaculture inputs.

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

The Institute of Aquaculture of the University of Stirling is a world-renowned aquaculture centre. At the institute under the supervision of experts in the field, I will gain experience in a range of disciplines including aquatic microbiology, epidemiology, genomics and data analysis. Moreover, my UK education will introduce me to global standards and practices in aquaculture production. All of which can be transferred to future generation of students thus facilitating both individual and institutional capacity building. This will also establish future collaborations with the UK researchers and institutes especially on the sustainability of aquaculture systems and industries.

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

The United Kingdom has played a major role in development of great scientific thoughts, theories and technological breakthroughs that have impacted the world and the future generations to come. It has continued and sustained this legacy by producing top world universities for scientific and technological researches. One of these is the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling which is known worldwide for their expertise in aquaculture production systems, e.g. on fish health. I was amazed with their technology, mentorship and commitment in relation to sustainable and healthy aquaculture which I think should be also done in my home country, the Philippines.