By KERRY TINGA
Renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply enough, you don’t understand it well enough.” So bear with me in this article. It would be much better if you referred any physics questions to Reginal Christian Bernardo, who has achieved the extraordinary milestone of becoming the country’s first homegrown gravitational physicist (once all the papers are signed).
The University of the Philippines National Institute of Physics (NIP) approved Reginald’s dissertation on alternative theories of gravity after he delivered his defense on May 22 through a Zoom teleconference that was also live-streamed on YouTube. The title of his dissertation is “Compact Objects, Cosmologies, and Gravitational Perturbations in Scalar-Tensor Theories of Gravity,” a study of how gravity is modified by dark energy.
Dr. Ian Vega, who was Reginald’s advisor, told Scientia, UP Diliman College of Science’s official student publication, “Finally, the proud intellectual tradition [of gravitational physics] from Newton to Einstein… now branches through the Philippines too.”
Dr. Vega completed his Ph.D. at the University of Florida. When he returned to the Philippines in 2016, he established the Gravity Group at NIP, which has since produced six bachelors, eight masters, and now one doctorate in gravitational physics. This is surely just the beginning for the Philippines to become a greater hub for scientific minds and talents in the field.
Having spent almost a decade with UP, Reginald is excited to travel to the Asia-Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics in Korea for post-doctorate work, although he knows his heart will always be with the Philippines.
“The biggest hurdle to obtaining a Ph.D. in the Philippines is the lack of scientists capable of mentoring PhDs for various specializations,” Reginald told Scientia. “I know that I’ll eventually return to our country [to mentor] local talents.”