Dr. Maria Corazon de Ungria

6 Aug

(Originally posted on December 18, 2009)

Dr. Maria Corazon A. De Ungria is one tough woman.

When most of the women are busy cooking, shopping or socializing with their friends, Dr. de Ungria is in the University of the Philippines National Science Research Institute (UP NSRI) DNA Analysis laboratory dealing with human body parts.

She plays a major role in resolving forensic cases as requested by the university, government agencies and private clients.

Dealing with cadavers is one thing but what’s “mentally and emotionally straining” for her is seeing the sufferings of those who are alive but couldn’t find justice, those who were victims of abuse and heinous crimes, those whose human rights were violated.

But these were nothing compared to the perks that she get from this job. For her, being a scientist is a very challenging and mind stimulating job which she enjoys a lot. She loves to answer the questions that would reveal the truth which means resolving the case. She also enjoys helping the students appreciate science. “Compensation is not great but people will find satisfaction..”. She adds that she get to experience the best and worst of one world. She can talk to policy makers or the urban poor. She can stay at a hotel or in the slum. Wherever she may be, she tries to “touch the hearts of people” that she speaks with. As she said, “…in my small little ways, I can help people have a better life.”

“Science. Science. Science.”

One may conclude that Dr. Ungria has been born for science. Her mind has always been set to science and never imagined to be in any other field and studying in Philippine Science High School has helped empower her passion. She took her Undergraduate and Doctorate degrees in The Macquarie University and University of New South Wales, Australia respectively, where she was given partial scholarship.

Much is given, much is required

“Everytime I asked and sought assistance …people have reached out to help me.”
After graduation, she originally planned on taking a worriless, stress free vacation at home. But it only took more than a week for her to magnify her calling as a scientist. “I got bored so I told my parents I will be going out. I went to UP and I was offered to head a laboratory with no equipment and money.” But needless to say, the young scientist knew she was home.

Dr. de Ungria received a lot of offers to work abroad including UK, China, Singapore and Australia but she still chose to serve her countrymen. Just like the old saying, “There is no place like home.” She could have gone to other countries and made more money but she still opted to serve her nation.

She feels blessed and thought that it’s time to give back through ways where she knows she’s best.

Of all the recognitions she received, she couldn’t compare the happiness that she gets whenever she sees happiness and satisfaction from her parents, friends, family and everyone that she cares about.

Dr. de Ungria knows that her job is an uphill battle to initiate change and there are risks involved but this wouldn’t stop her – because she is one tough woman.


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