ACADEMIC Year 2008-2009 saw another batch of undergraduate theses whose findings could help solve everyday problems or even cure a disease. The Varsitarian’s picks are three theses in the natural and applied sciences.

One proposes a new way of checking the freshness of market produce. Another studied an alternative means of producing electricity to help reduce global warming. The third one discovered a new way of helping treat dengue fever.

Chemical engineering: Freshness indicator

Expensive seafood such as lobsters and grouper or lapu-lapu sold in supermarkets are usually packed with labels indicating their expiration dates, since the freshness of these products also determines price. However, chemical engineering students Rose Ann Tamolang and Lizette Palicpic pointed out that this practice is not followed in wet markets where vendors still practice the traditional way of selling wet goods, for instance allowing buyers to freely pinch and smell fish.

This prompted Tamolang and Palicpic to conduct a study titled, “Development of Fish Freshness Sensor Packaging Based on Polyaniline for Dalagang-Bukid (Pterocaseio digramma).” The study proposed the use of an indicator that would react to the degradation by-products of fish in the package itself instead of relying on labels. When exposed to decaying fish, polyaniline, the indicator used in the study, changes color gradually from green to blue. Based on their research, the change in color is proportional to the concentration of the volatile compounds that decaying fish produce.

To find out the test’s effectiveness, the polyaniline film’s reactions to the fish tested were compared to a reference color chart included in the fish packaging.

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“The fish is safe for consumption as long as the film in the package turns green. Change in color of the indicator means (degradation) in the freshness of the fish,” said Tamolang.

Mechanical engineering: Wind energy for gadgets

To lessen the production of greenhouse gases as a result of electricity consumption, mechanical engineering students Benedict Santos, Jeff Garcia, Mark Angelo Peña, Rey Patrick Pascual and Aldous Rañon conducted a study suggesting a mechanism to recycle energy using wind turbines.

The study was titled, “Design of a Linear Inducting Coil Mechanism for Energy Scavenging in Low-Density Wind.”

The concept came from a “shake-driven” flashlight and its flow of energy. The flashlight used was a sensitive gadget, and the power source could be triggered by simply shaking the flashlight itself. The thesis tackled the possibility of creating a machine that will use the wind in an urban setting to serve as power generator.

The project, however, did not produce small-scale wind turbines due to lack of time.

The thesis was among the three choices submitted by the University to the yearly Bank of the Philippine Islands-Department of Science and Technology Awards, given to undergraduate researches that excel in the fields of natural science and technology.

Pharmacy: Tawa-tawa leaves for dengue

Characterized by a sudden onset of high fever, nose bleeding, and low platelet count, dengue hemorrhagic fever is an acute infection affecting many Filipinos.

In a report released last April by the Regional Office for the Western Pacific of the World Health Organization, 39,620 dengue cases with 373 fatalities were reported in the country 2008.

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To help solve the problem, Pharmacy students Jeriz Anne Natividad, Hazel Lopez, Toni Ann Marie Luna, Rachelle Manalo, Jeriz Natividad and Clarisse Ngo conducted “A study on the Mechanism of Platelet Increasing Activity of the Decoction and Ethanolic Extraction of Euphorbia hirta L. (Euphorbiaceae) as treatment for dengue.”

The researchers proposed a new treatment to increase platelet count, which is normally achieved through platelet transfusion from blood donors. Instead, the study used the extract of Euphorbia hirta, commonly known as tawa-tawa. The plant is believed to possess a property that increases platelets.

“We want (an) alternative that will not be expensive and time-consuming since platelet transfusion demands platelet compatibility testing prior to patient transfusion. Our alternative is cheaper and more natural since transfusion is no longer needed,” Lopez told the Varsitarian.

The researchers subjected tawa-tawa’s leaves to decoction, a method of extraction performed through boiling. Tawa-tawa’s platelet-increasing activity was tested on laboratory experimental rats, specifically Sprague-Dawley.

According to Lopez, results of the study showed that the tawa-tawa extract was effective in increasing the platelet count of rats without notable effects in red blood cell and white blood cell counts.

The group also concluded that the platelet increasing property of tawa-tawa works through the stimulation of platelet production in the bone marrow.

The project was submitted by the group to the National Research Council of the Philippines and won first prize in Cluster III-Division of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences in the body’s 76th General Membership Assembly.

“We wanted our research to be timely, unique and public health-oriented (to) benefit the Thomasian community and the country,” said Lopez. J.A.G. Ambanta


  1. We are planning on doing a thesis regarding tawa-tawa, and we would like to use “A study on the Mechanism of Platelet Increasing Activity of the Decoction and Ethanolic Extraction of Euphorbia hirta L. (Euphorbiaceae) as treatment for dengue.” by Jeriz Anne Natividad, Hazel Lopez, Toni Ann Marie Luna, Rachelle Manalo, Jeriz Natividad and Clarisse Ngo as research reference. Is it possible for us to have a copy of their thesis? How can we contact them?

  2. I would suggest that you use published literature as references for your research. Undergrad theses that have not yet been published in scientific peer reviewed journals do not make for good references. It does not matter if it has been awarded “best thesis”, as long as it has not been published, it does not qualify as valid scientific literature. Check with your professors, unless they themselves do not know proper research procedures, they would be able to guide you accordingly.

    • May be you can share your experience/s in scientific researches and give some of your output as a model published research to these undergrad researchers for them to learn from your work or experience especially if this is realated to their own research. Kung meron man, this is now your opportunity to contribute or share to the great reservoir of human knowledge to make it even more diverse and richer. Mahirap kasi ko’ng comment lang but no tangible contribution to these guys diba?

      • If you can visit / consult with us researchers in the TARC, then maybe we can help you. I am not merely commenting here just for the sake of commenting. We do conduct researches and publish them in scientific journals. As scientists, that is how we contribute to the growth of science. I assume that this is the primary role of the research advisers of these undergrad students because as advisers, they should know how to properly conduct research and use viable scientific literature to make sure that everything is done properly.

  3. hello po i’m henzell from laguna. gusto ko lng po sana magpatulong about sa study nyo sa tawa-tawa. this is my number 09093387384 sana po matulungan nyo aq for conducting the study. interest po aq na ifurther research pa yung sa tawa-tawa. sana po magresponse kayo.salamat po.

  4. Having antibodies to a virus in your blood from a previous infection usually helps protect you. But in the case of dengue fever, it actually increases your risk of severe disease Dengue Fever


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