Renowned for his outstanding contributions in the field of tropical marine phycology with focus on seaweed biodiversity, biology, ecology, and culture, Acd. Gavino C. Trono, Jr. was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist by virtue of Proclamation No. 737signed by President Benigno Aquino III on March 13, 2014.
He is credited for his extensive studies on the culture of Eucheuma denticulatum,Kappaphycus alvarezii, Gracilaria spp., Caulerpa lentillifera, and Halymenia durvillei, seaweed that benefited thousands amongthe coastal populations. He was the first to report the occurrence of “ice-ice” disease which has caused tremendous loss of biomass in seaweed farms. He published papers on the open water and pond cultures of Gracilaria, pond and lagoon culture of Caulerpa lentillifera and culture and management of stocks of Sargassum. He led a team in a field survey and assessment of coastal areas in Western Mindanao which identified sites in Sakol Island in Zamboanga and Tapaan Island in Siasi, Sulu where the commercial seaweed farms were established in 1972.
His dedication to science led to the successful implementation of 45 research projects, which resulted in the publication of 142 papers consisting of 20 ISI and 120 technical papers. He was also able to describe and publish 25 new species of marine benthic algae. His first major publications on the marine algae in the Northern Tropical and Western Pacific expanded and altered the knowledge on the geographical distribution of the benthic algae in Central and Western Pacific.
Acd. Trono was instrumental to the development of degree programs in the marine and biological sciences, mentoring graduate students, and in promoting seaweed research and sound coastal resources management. He established the largest phycological herbarium in the country — the G.T. Velasquez Herbarium in the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines, which houses more than 70,000 curated herbarium specimens of the seaweed flora.
His strong advocacy on the culture of seaweeds as the most environmentally friendly and productive livelihood for fisherfolks, has earned him many awards and citations, which include the “Likas Yaman Award” from the Ministry of Natural Resources (Philippines) in 1978, UP Alumni award In 1979, and Plaque of Recognition for his outstanding scientific contributions to the advancement of the science of phycology in the Philippines by the Asia Pacific Society of Applied Phycology in 2006.
Acd. Trono obtained his Bachelor of Science in Botany from the University of the Philippines Diliman (1954), Master of Science in Agricultural Botany from the Araneta University (1961), and Doctor of Philosophy in Botany (Marine) from the University of Hawaii (UH) through an East West Center Study Grant (1968). He was a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of Botany under the advisorship of the late professor Maxwell S. Doty during his five-year stint at UH.
In 2008, Acd. Trono was elected as Academician by the membership of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), the highest recognition and advisory body to the government and science community on matters related to science and technology.
In May 2012, the Academicians of NAST PHL endorsed Acd. Trono to President Benigno Aquino for the Rank and Title of National Scientist, the highest recognition given by the President of the Republic of the Philippine to a Filipino man or woman of science in the Philippines who has made significant contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology. This award was created under Presidential Decree No. 1003-A on December 16, 1976. Since 1978, the rank and title of National Scientists has been conferred on 37 Filipinos, 12 of whom are living.
Currently, Acd. Trono is affiliated with Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Aquaculture Seaweed Research and Development as technical consultant, where he is actively engaged in the development and generation of scientific knowledge and information in his field of expertise.