100 MIFG: Michael Purugganan – Scientist


Photography by: Avery Raandall Cefre


100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Dr. Michael Purugganan – Scientist.


A leading authority on plant molecular evolution and genomics, with over 130 research papers to his credit Dr. Michael Purugganan is a distinguished Biologist, who, through his undertakings has contributed a wealth of knowledge to the domain of Science. He reveals: “In my science, it is always part of our contribution to humanity’s knowledge.  But I am conscious that this is also part of the Philippine contribution to world knowledge.”


Born and raised in Metro Manila, Michael earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry at UP Diliman and pursued further studies finishing his Master’s in Chemistry from Columbia University in New York City, and his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Georgia. He serves as the Silver Professor of Biology and Dean for Science at the esteemed New York University, USA, and is an affiliate professor here at NYU Abu Dhabi. He was also the director of the NYU New York Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (2010-2012) and the NYU Abu Dhabi Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (2012-2017).


In his laboratory at NYU Abu Dhabi, Michael leads a group of scientists who study the different date palm varieties, investigating their origin, evolution, and genetic makeup, hoping that they may encounter new ways to enhance date palm fruits. His work has earned him the Khalifa International Date Palm Award, bestowed on him by His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan in 2015.


Through his breakthroughs, Michael shares that if not for curiosity, hard work, and persistence, he would not be where he is today. He tells us: “What allowed me to achieve is not thinking I couldn’t do something – if I thought it was worth doing, I would go for it.  Also, not taking shortcuts and always doing more than what is necessary to get the work done.  Finally, always being focused on excellence and making sure our work is world-class.”


Michael has these wise words to share with fellow Filipinos: “To compete in the global arena, you have to be ready to compete against the best in the world.  And we Filipinos can do it, no matter what we do, if we put our minds to it and if we are never satisfied but always working to do better.”



Photography by: Avery Raandall Cefre
Grooming: Rachel Clark

Illustrado 100 was made possible by sponsors: GiordanoLiali JewelleryMitsubishi UAE- Al Habtoor MotorsMichael Cinco CoutureMapúa Institute of TechnologyCentro – Amwaj Rotana Hotel , Max’s Restaurant Middle East and GVER – Your Friendly MarketPlace for Sharing

Co-Sponsors: Herschel Supply Co.Rove HotelsThe Medical City – Dubai , Filipino Institute UAEMPQ TourismJAMES Travel and Tours DubaiOff the Hook Seafood RestaurantThe Original Barrio Fiesta Restaurant – Dubai and Tapa King UAE


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