Supporting professional development
Council president Peter Donaldson and current Fred H. Bixby fellows Erica Soler-Hampejsek and Ashish Bajracharya.
In early 2010 I received an e-mail message from Mercedes Concepcion, emeritus professor at the University of the Philippines, who was named a "National Scientist" by Philippine president Gloria Arroyo in February. In making the announcement, President Arroyo said that Concepcion's work was "reflective of the national genius that contributes to science and technology and to the progress of the country."
When she arrived home from the award ceremony, Dr. Concepcion, who is called Ditas, sent me an e-mail message that said in part, "This honor would not have been possible without the initial support of the Population Council."
Ditas was a Population Council fellow from 1958 to 1960 at the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. She has been a path-breaking leader in both academic population studies and in the development of population and reproductive health policies and programs in the Philippines. Among her numerous accomplishments, she spearheaded the establishment of the University of the Philippines’s Population Institute, which was supported by Population Council grants, and was instrumental in the passage of the Population Act of 1971 that provided for a national population policy and family planning program. She chaired the United Nations Population Commission for nine years and the World Health Organization’s Steering Committee on Social and Psychological Determinates of Fertility for six years. Her contributions to the global community were recognized in 2005 when she received the United Nations Population Award.
The Council is privileged to have collaborated with Ditas and with many other social and biomedical scientists at the beginning of their careers. One of the great pleasures of being president of the Population Council is meeting these former fellows, many of whom occupy important leadership positions. The fellows recognize the important role that the Council played in their careers, and they are uniformly grateful for the support they received. Indeed many fellows—Ditas Concepcion among them—are generous long-time donors to the Council.
In today’s fast-paced, information-saturated environment, we’re not used to thinking beyond the next news cycle, much less the span of a researcher’s career. The effects of the Council’s fellowship programs and much of our other work are long-term. But even those who have just completed their fellowships recognize the importance of the experience. Last month, a recent Vietnamese fellow wrote, "Without this incredible opportunity and support, I would not be successful in my career as I am today. I am very proud of being a part of the program."
Current fellows in the Fred H. Bixby Fellowship Program are working with experienced Council researchers to develop an injectable method of contraception using Nestorone®; examine the effects of schooling on sexual initiation, marriage, and childbearing; and investigate the determinants of and contemporary trends in adolescent marriage, among other projects. The knowledge these fellows take home to Egypt, Mexico, and Nepal will shape scientific discussions and inform policies and practices there and in the global community for years to come.
Updates from the president
- Achieving results
- Supporting professional development
- Welcoming Babatunde Osotimehin, new UNFPA executive director
- From The Huffington Post