Through Malacañang Proclamation No. 782 dated June 6, 2014, President Benigno S. Aquino conferred on Academician Angel C. Alcala the Rank and Title of National Scientist in recognition of his outstanding contributions to society, specifically his seminal and original research on the systematic, ecology, and diversity of Philippine amphibians and reptiles, and, marine biodiversity, reef fishes and conservation (marine-protected areas).
His studies on and advocacy of marine no-take zones led to a national policy and program that established no-take marine protective areas which has resulted in more than a thousand of such marine no-take zones in the country and has become a model of coastal resource management and conservation adopted by many countries. No-take marine reserves allows the build-up of marine biodiversity including fishery species as well as export of adult fish to areas (outside of MPAs) used as fishing areas, thereby enhancing fish yields of fishers.
He spent his professional life as an academic leader,an institution builder, and a public administrator.He was appointed as president of the Silliman University,here he helped institutionalize scientific research on marine biology and marine conservation. Dr. Alcala was appointed to two important positions in the Fidel V. Ramos Cabinet; he served as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 1992 to 1995 and later as Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education from 1995 to 1999, with probity, integrity, and transparency.
National Scientist Alcala is credited for his original and significant publications that are remarkably substantive on both ecological and taxonomic aspects. He has provided strong support to his colleagues and peers and has served as a role model among young scientists in support of their scientific and technological researches.
Academician Alcala obtained his B.S. in Biology magna cum laude from Silliman University in 1951 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 1960 and 1966, respectively. He rose from the ranks of Instructor in Biology at Silliman to various high ranking positions at the University, including Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Director of the Marine Laboratory, and President (1991-1992).
He received honorary doctorates from Xavier University and University of Southeastern Philippines and has conducted extensive researches on Philippine amphibians and reptiles since the mid-1950s. He served as consultant on marine and aquatic projects supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Bank Global Environment Facility, the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, and the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute. He actively participated in the Australian-ASEAN marine project from the mid-1980s to early 1990s.
Among the distinctive awards Academician Alcala received are the Gregorio Y. Zara medal for Basic Science by the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science, Inc. (PhilAAS) (2011), Outstanding Men and Women of Science by the Department of Science and Technology (2009), and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1992),
In 2004, Dr. Angel C. Alcala was elected to the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), as academician. NAST PHL is the country’s highest recognition and advisory body to the government and science community on matters related to science and technology.
In December 2013, the members of NAST PHL endorsed Academician Alcala to President Benigno S. Aquino III for the Rank and Title of National Scientist, the highest recognition given by the President of the Republic of the Philippine to a Filipino man or woman of science in the Philippines who has made significant contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology. This award was created under Presidential Decree No. 1003-A on December 16, 1976.
Currently, Academician Alcala is Chairman of the Board of Advisers at the Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management in Dumaguete City. He is also Professor Emeritus at the said university and is a member of the NAST Executive Council.