Dr. Mercedes Concepcion is 33rd National Scientist from UP

Dr. Mercedes B. Concepcion

On January 14, 2010, MalacaƱang named Dr. Mercedes B. Concepcion National Scientist for her outstanding contributions in the field of Demography. The National Scientist Award is the highest recognition from the Philippine government for individuals who made notable contributions to science and technology.

Dr. Concepcion was elected Academician by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), and was endorsed by the NAST to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the Order of National Scientist.

She obtained her B.Sc. degree in chemistry from UP in 1951 before pursuing Biostatistics at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine of the University of Sydney from 1953 to 1954 under the Colombo Plan fellowship. She obtained her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1963.

Honored as the first National Scientist in Demography, Dr. Concepcion’s accomplishments have been recognized by various organizations here and abroad. She was the first Filipino staff member of the UN Statistical Training Centre in UP in 1955, the first director of UP’s Population Institute set up in 1964, the first and only Filipino representative to the UN Population Commission in 1967, the first woman chair of the UN Population Commission from 1969 to 1977, and the first Asian woman president of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population from 1981 to 1985.

In November 1964, the Vatican invited her as one of two Asian members of the special committee for studies on problems of population and birth control (Birth Control Commission), which led to the promulgation of the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, in 1968. She was also invited by the UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (now the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) to be a member and later chairperson of the preparatory committees for the Asian Population Conferences of 1963, 1972, 1984, and 1994.

Dr. Concepcion was crucial in the establishment of the UP Population Institute (UPPI) in 1964, which was funded by the Ford Foundation. Working with the late Enrique T. Virata and Professor Philip M. Hauser of the University of Chicago, UPPI was instrumental in the enactment of the Population Act of 1971. In 1986, Dr. Concepcion chaired the committee to review the Philippine Statistical System which led to the reorganization of the country’s statistical offices and establishment of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB). She was re-appointed to this position 20 years later.

Dr. Concepcion is now a board member of the Commission on Population, chair of the NSCB Technical Committee on Population and Housing Statistics, vice president of the Executive Council of NAST, and vice president of Pangarap Foundation for Street Children.