Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Other Filipina “Ms. Universe”

Posted By: The Mail Man - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

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Reinabelle “Reina” Reyes, born 1984 in San Juan City has never been part of any beauty pageant that we know of. But she is a witness to the pageant of the beauty of the cosmos. In fact, she is one member of a team that is prying open the secrets of the universe. That team proved Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity within the scale of our solar system but on the grand scale of the galaxies. Reina Reyes is an astrophysicist.

Leading her Princeton collaborators, Reyes showed that galaxies 3.5 billion light years away are clustered together exactly how Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity predicts them to be. In a forum with Filipino students, Reina Reyes told them that this is the same force that pins them to their seats, that enabled her to stand on the stage and dictates the  movements of the galaxies in the universe itself. These enabled them to come up with new measurements that indicate how galaxies are pulled together by gravity just as in accordance to Einstein’s theories.   


These finding also led them to support the existence of Dark Energy. Dark Energy is a force greater than gravity but has yet to be proven by scientists and has largely existed in “scientific” conjecture. NASA believes that pinning down the exact nature of Dark Energy is one of the most significant problems facing science today.



Reina Reyes graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University summa cum laude in Physics. Her PhD in Astrophysics was attained from Princeton University. Currently, she is a fellow at the University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.

“Today is an exciting time to be a scientist in the Philippines”

Disclosing that what led her to be a scientist was her penchant for asking questions when she was young. This led her to search for answers when there was no ready answer. This resulted in more questions that also needed more answers. Having supportive parents was also a very significant factor in her growing up years. She said she wanted to be an astronaut but the height requirement led her into being more “earthbound” in her quest for science. Having a solid science foundation at the Philippine Science High School, this served as her springboard into higher science education.

Reina Reyes confessed that she once thought that being a scientist meant being away from the country. But after eight years, she decided to come back home, that this is an exciting time to be a scientist in the Philippines. There are “real” problems in the country ranging from disaster risk reduction to food security. These challenges need scientists in coming up with solutions. Science is all about solutions that are not yet found in books and the internet. Scientists will be the ones to ask the questions and answer those questions themselves. The answers lie in nature and that these need only be discovered.

Dr. Reina Reyes has been awarded the following:

Chambliss Astronomy Student Achievement Award by the American Astronomical Society
Centennial Fellowship,
Merit Prize Fellowship Grant,
Martin Schwarschild Graduate Fellowship
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