For his important contributions in biodiversity research and conservation which led to the discovery of new species of vertebrates including Gallirallus calayensis and Platymantis diesmosi; for his implemented researches that led to the establishment of localized conservation programs for key areas in the Philippines (i.e., South Luzon, Polilio, Cebu, and Mindoro) regarded to be global hotspots for biological diversity in collaboration with other conservation organizations across the world; and for his involvement in the advancement of conservation initiatives and expansion of applications of biological conservation focused on preserving the exceptionally rich biological diversity of the country, Mr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez was chosen as one of the grantees of the 2011 Outstanding Young Scientist award by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST Phl). The award is given to deserving young individuals not more than 40 years old (in the year of the award) who has made outstanding contributions to science and technology.
His research interests focus on ornithology, phylogepgraphy, conservation biology, vertebrate biology, evolutionary ecology, and ethno-biology, among others.
He actively participated in various local and international professional or scientific organizations, like the UPLB Zoological Society, American Ornithologist’s Union, and the Wild Bird Society of Japan, to name a few. He has also presented papers and posters to numerous national and international conferences and symposia and has been recipient to many academic awards, including the Luisito S. Cuy Memorial Award (1992), Metro Manila Commission Professorial Chair Award (2005), and the BPI Conservation Award (2007).
Mr. Gonzalez is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines Los Banos, where he took up his B.S and M.S. in Zoology in 1992 and 1997, respectively.
He is currently on study leave to pursue his doctorate degree in the United Kingdom under the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program, awarded in 2007. This program is implemented through a partnership of the Philippine Social Science Council, the British Council and the International Institute for Education. In October 2008, he had started his first autumn term (Michaelmas) at the illustrious University of Oxford, after being given a place to read at St Anne’s College. He is now on his third year reading for a D.Phil in Zoology at the equally historic Edward Grey Institute for Field Ornithology (EGI) at the Department of Zoology, under the supervision of Professor Ben Sheldon, Dr Joseph Tobias and Dr Nigel Collar. His research at the EGI represents an integrated approach to tropical evolutionary ecology and conservation biology, including studies in phylogeography, behavioural ecology and ethno-ornithology. His main model system is hornbills, a charismatic group of Asian and Afrotropical birds with a unique habit of nest incarceration, exhibits a fused atlas-axis and elaborated casque to support their long decurved bills.
There are ten species of hornbills endemic to the Philippines, half of which are threatened with extinction and are relatively poorly known. Taxonomy of these hornbills necessitates a comprehensive study, to which he intends to resolve in my dissertation – the Evolution, Ecology and Conservation of Philippine Hornbills. he hopes to understand the dispersal direction and colonization history of these enigmatic birds by constructing a complete species-level multi-locus molecular phylogeny of the Order Bucerotiformes, using different phylogenetic approaches – from estimates of sequence divergence using Maximum Likelihood to construct of calibrated Bayesian chronograms using the Markov Chain Monte Carlo method. Mitochondrial and novel nuclear genes were sequenced largely from historical samples derived from study skins kept in a dozen museum collections worldwide (NHM, OUMNH, UMZC, AMNH, DMNH, NUS-RMVB, NMP, UPLBMNH, UPD-IB, SU-RBGNSM, MSU-AKNSM, MSU-IITCSM) including hornbills collected in the 1850’s by celebrated naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace. This project was also supported by grants from the North of England Zoological Society and the British Ornithologist’s Union. Luningning Samarita, Executive Director, NAST