Taking up a psychology program translates to flexible opportunities, ranging from the human resource department and social welfare office to research and clinical practice as a psychometrician.
However, the fields a psychology degree (or any degree in physical sciences) can pursue usually branch out to two categories: academic (clinical practice, research, medicine) and corporate (HR management, clergy). Since I’ll be part of the workforce soon enough, I wanted to look into these fields of employment further.
For this, I decided to interview my Biology professor, Asst. Prof. Glen R. Mangali, for an overview of what it’s like to have a place in academic research.
While the field of research and academic teaching isn’t that prioritized in the Philippines, both salary-wise and in funds, it’s still a vocation worth aspiring for. How intellect and compassion impacts lives and the community of healthy and sickly individuals is a question that answers itself. Research changes the field of science bit by bit, piece by piece until the community enjoys the knowledge and applications shared by years of hardwork and dedication.
Asst. Prof. Glen Mangali isn’t a psychology graduate, but he has known plenty of research colleagues in his line of expertise who are. He also does valuable research concerning biology, education and environmental sciences while teaching in two universities at the same time- making him a valuable interviewee for my small project.
But at the start of the interview, things got to a personal level while making valuable insights about his job at the same time. Despite the nature of the interview being too formal, there was a soft side that I never thought would’ve shown. He told me about his struggles: how he was stuck with the circumstances that forced him to be a working student at a young age, his restlessness, his constrained time with family, and how he tries to keep a balance on things. This left a mark in me. It made me realize that even the most formal of people have a story, and they deserve to be heard.
I’ll probably write about that kind of insight in another blog post. But right now, my concern involves what it’s like to teach and do research at the same time- years after obtaining any sort of degree. For the sake of the blog post (and for the sake of my professor), I’ll leave some parts of the interview out. But all the same, the insight I gained from him was more valuable than I ever thought imaginable.
Disclaimer: Every response the interviewee has given may or may not be verbatim since the interviewer transcribed and fixed some dialogue while writing during the interview at the same time. But rest assure that the thoughts are the same.
Interviewer: Can you give a brief description of your position as an assistant professor to two universities/institutions? Why were you interested in an academic position?
I’m a part time assistant professor at La Salle College Antipolo. I teach Physical Sciences, mostly fields concerning Biological Sciences since I myself graduated with a degree in Biology. But I also teach Chemistry and Physics. Often, I try to integrate those into Biology in order for my students to gain a richer scope on the processes of life. Initially, I teach full-time at [Colegio de San Juan de] Letran. However, I teach Tuesdays to Thursdays here [La Salle College Antipolo] and teach Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Letran. Aside from this, I’m also doing research for the educational field, specifically those concerning the sciences in schools; for biological sciences and education. In the field of education, I am now studying the reforms concerning the K-12 system.
I am very much content with my occupation. It matches my productive personality, my intelligence and my thirst to practice and lecture on the knowledge I have learned throughout the years to my students. And I find that it’s a rather flexible occupation since I am in the scholarly field of academics.
Has the K-12 system affected your career? And how have you made time for yourself at this point in your life since you juggle so much?
Yes, but we are living in a progressive world and we are potential beings that need to be productive. Honestly, I live on 2-3 hours of sleep- sometimes not at all. My wife and children understand me completely on this. Especially my wife since she, too, is working in the same field as I am.
Because of the teaching and research I do on the side, I have made some sacrifices that my family have understood. Ever since I was 19, I haven’t had a break. Not even summer. In summer, I lecture in UPCAT test reviews and the like. I am now 33. I spent 14 years without a summer vacation.
It really has become a passion to be an assistant professor, hasn’t it?
Definitely. I teach to students who want to pursue the sciences someday and I bestow a part of me to them. Now, I am a scholar and a student trying to attain a doctoral degree because I want to teach graduate students. That is the kind of productivity I believe benefits humanity in my own way.
I’ve observed that there are ranks in the positions within the academe (professor, assistant professor, associate professor). May you tell me more about this (especially in terms of tenure, publications/ etc.)?
You initially start as an instructor then the ranks go from there, depending on how your alumni sees your progress. If your alumni see that you are good and excelling, there is a much better chance for you to have a change of position. Another significant factor is the publications you author or co-author in journals and how much that is cited in other works. Right now, I am an assistant professor 3- which is the highest rank for an assistant professor to be in. However, I cannot progress to associate professor simply because I do not have a Doctoral degree yet. And you can tell, I am currently studying for my Doctoral degree in Science Education as a scholar.
What are the standard qualifications/ degrees required in order to secure an academic position in any university/institution? Are there any cases in which a university/institution accepts an application for an academic position without having a doctoral/masteral degree?
It depends on the CHED Memorandum. Before, you can be good and show excelling characteristics for your alumnus to determine your rank. But now, the minimum requirement for an academic position as a professor is a masteral. Like I said, despite my research efforts and achievements in the scientific community, I cannot be an associate professor unless I have a PhD. And like I mentioned before, I love progress and productivity.
I understand that your position involves teaching undergraduate courses and doing academic research. Does the bulk of your occupation focus more on teaching or research work?
Would you believe me when I say that my job doesn’t require research at all?
Yes, but it’s an activity that adds to my curriculum as a professor. It’s a plus and an extra effort on my part as a person in the academe. A benefit from doing research is the benefit the community is getting from you.
How have you gone about making your research relevant to communities outside of the university? May you discuss your current research project/s?
Research adds meaning and purpose to my occupation. It is a compassionate duty beyond teaching because you are going the extra mile to add to the literature in the community. Imagine the benefit a sickly mother would get for her children from a bunch of scholars devoting a fraction of their time to improving and conducting research.
Currently, I am doing several researches in the fields of Biology, Environmental Sciences and Educational Reform. For Biology, I am doing a nanoparticle antibacterial research; for Environmental Sciences, I am doing an Intramuros pollution assessment; and for educational reform, the implications of the K-12 system.
What courses have you taught previously?
I used to teach grade schoolers, you know. I taught preschoolers in CCF Antipolo, grade school, high school and undergraduates. That and I used to tutor random students. Like I said, I mainly and purely teach the Physical Sciences. I integrate Biology with Physics and Chemistry and I have been doing so for 13-14 years.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teaching is a learning process. Teaching deals with the interpersonal, reflective process of learning and it delivers learning in a sense that a part of knowledge passes on to other people.
Suppose a dissertation defense coincided with another important research project and an important class in which your students will present an important report for your course. How would you be able to handle this type of situation?
This is what I would do: I would prioritize the dissertation. Research can wait unless there’s a rigid deadline. Either way, my peers would understand. Then, I would be absent for a class physically, but I would video myself conducting a class and give it to them so that I am still virtually there. I have only done this to Letran. I haven’t done this to my Lasallian students yet.
Lastly, what would you say to those who wish to have an academic position like yours?
Anything is possible, but always remember to manage time. You can do anything as long as you manage time. That’s it.
Glen R. Mangali is a PhD Science Education candidate at the Philippine Normal University under DOST-SEI scholarship. He earned his Master of Arts in Science Education and Bachelor in Secondary Education degree with specialization in Biology also from PNU. He has presented and published researches both in local and international journal in the field of education, pedagogy, science education and biological science. Professor Mangali also conducted seminars in writing science research, approaches and strategies in teaching, teaching methodology and approaches in the 21st Century classroom. He has written module and primer under PNU, science textbook in grade school under Singapore Asia Publishing, Senior High School Texbook under UFPA (DIWA Publishing) and Rex Bookstore. He is a lecturer in UPCAT Review and LET (Licensure Examination for Teachers) Review under Review Master and TOP Rank Review Center respectively. Currently, Professor Mangali teaches science subjects at PNU, Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Manila and La Salle College Antipolo.