Dengue Fever Exploration | Writing Risk Analysis on Dengue Fever Outbreak

Dengue fever cases in Cambodia increased by 30% in the first three weeks of the year. A dengue fever outbreak occurs every 4 to 5 years. The last outbreak in Cambodia was in 2012, and it was expected that an outbreak would happen in 2017, according to Phnom Penh Post. However, there wasn’t an outbreak last year, so it’s assumed that it will happen this year. 

Dengue virus vectors, Aedes Egypti, mainly are found in urban areas, where they’re highly populated. In these areas, standing water containers and water storage such as flower vases, tanks and jars are commonly found and can be breeding ground for Aedes Egypti.

The information above has led us to do a risk analysis on dengue fever outbreak. We asked the villagers from two communities  Chompous Kaek and Koh Krobey ‒ questions related to their knowledge on dengue fever and prevention behavior. We also did observations to determine the presence of mosquito larvae.  We used this information to assess relationships between variables such as knowledge, prevention behavior, and perceived risk. 

  • Visiting WHO to get more information about Dengue Fever in Cambodia

The final report is a potential resource for the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization based in Cambodia to identify the risk of dengue fever in areas like Chompous Kaek and Koh Krobey. It’s also helpful for the villagers in a way that it will bring their needs to the attention of those institutions. For example, larvicide, Abate, hasn’t been given to the villagers for years, and many are requesting for it. 

Below is a section of the report that I’ve worked on.

Many people have some knowledge about dengue fever and are taking some actions to prevent mosquitoes from biting and breeding, but statistical analysis shows no evidence of an association between the two variables. In other words, none of the prevention behaviors are influenced by the knowledge people already have about dengue fever. Additionally, this particular finding is aligned with the result from the study on “Dengue knowledge, attitudes and practices and their impact on community-based vector control in rural Cambodia.”

In this observational study, there may be errors presented in this survey, such as response bias. For instance, people might most likely say they clean their water storage frequently, even though they don’t. Also, knowledge may not necessarily determine people’s actions; it is possible they can know something but not apply their knowledge to real life. By this means, we can’t make an appropriate conclusion about any causal relationship.

As mentioned above, villagers did exhibit some prevention behaviors against dengue fever; however, these behaviors were relegated to a few methods to prevent mosquitoes from biting and breeding. In addition, only about 30% of the people we surveyed have attended some forms of educational campaign related to dengue fever. This means those people would benefit from an awareness campaign, educating them more on methods to prevent dengue fever.

2017/2018 Yearly Reflection

My Journey as a Young Conservationist

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin,” Anthony Robbin

One day before the summer of 2017, my science teacher came into the meeting room, wearing a snorkeling mask and fins — not something someone would do every day. We gave her a bizarre look and knew she was up to something. She explained about an opportunity given by Liger and MCC (Marine Conservation Cambodia) and that the students selected would involve in a long-term marine science project; I knew it was for me.

But one thing halted my excitement: we would be learning to dive. The idea of breathing underwater haunted me like how a fish would feel emerging into the land. It’s unnatural for any human beings to stay underwater and it’s even more abnormal for me. I don’t have a swim gene and couldn’t expect how I would feel while diving.

Anyhow, I knew that my passion for science is greater than my fear of diving.

I neglected my ineptitude in swimming and decided to apply. I was chosen to be one of the eight students involving in the first-ever Liger research team. That was a dream come true.

Before any work is put into the research, I dedicated my time in the summer holiday to learn about diving — spending a few hours each day learning about Boyle’s law, effective breathing pattern and etc. Things that struck me most was the possible injuries we can get underwater: sinus squeeze, mask squeeze, ear squeeze, and lung squeeze. I was terrified of diving already and those things just worsen my fright.

On the 28th of September 2017, the three-year adventure for the Liger Marine Research Team (LMRT) began. We traveled for three hours from Liger to the small port of Kep and continued on the MCC boat to Koh Seh. The wild, one-hour boat ride took me to a place I’ve never seen with people I barely knew.  

After having a welcoming and delicious dinner, Liger, MCC staffs, and volunteers got to introduce ourselves to each other. There were people of all ages, from 18 year-olds to 30-year olds, people from different places and people with different backgrounds. That’s when I figured out we are the youngest and some of the few Cambodians there who would be working on marine research.

The next morning, we had our first dive lesson! Assembling the gears was a puzzle; my hands were shaking while putting the tank, the regulator and buoyancy compensator together. Carrying the massive equipments behind my back, I entered the water and followed my dive instructor. We then descended, and all I could see was the figure of people that dove with me. The water wasn’t that clear and I had to focus on what the instructor was doing. When I had to learn to clear my mask, the instructor introduced water into my mask and I couldn’t blow it out. I choked and instinctively came out of the water. That was one panicked moment. The rest of the dive went well, but it was still very difficult. Anyways, the “panic attack” stopped after a few dives. The next three days were packed with diving courses. It usually takes weeks or months to be a certified diver, but for us, 14 to 16 year-olds, only took four days to complete the course and be certified.

Besides learning to dive, we need to understand the methodology for doing underwater surveys because that’s a great part of our study. The MCC experts walked us through the process and even guided us through a practice survey underwater.

After all the training, we were able to deploy our artificial reef. Our hope for the artificial reef is for it to replenish the species that’s been lost due to illegal fishing activities and stop trawling which will prevent the excessive destruction of organisms.

The block is minuscule in comparison to the immensity of the ocean, but only one month after deployment, we could see our progress. We noticed plenty more fish and species on our second survey than we did during our first survey. We saw zero catfish on our baseline survey and we saw 50 of those the next survey. The progress that has been made in such as short period of time is significant — imagine decades after deployment.

I’m imagining the work we’re doing could lead to restoring the quality of our ocean. I’m imagining our ocean can be like Cabo Pulmo in Mexico: the vast abundance of biodiversity and clear water. This might not happen very soon, but it’s not impossible. We began the journey, so it’s possible.

What I learned more clearly from this experience is that perfection or accomplishment doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and practice. We can think of it as a mango. We can’t pick a green mango from a tree and expect it to be sweet and juicy; it takes more time for the mango to be ripen and gain excellent taste. If we want to see the change, the accomplishment, we have to be patient and know that the effort we put in is worth the change we’ll see in the coming future.


The First Ever Khmer Model United Nations

I’ve attended Model United Nations (MUN) a few times, but they were all in English. I believe most MUN conferences across the world are done in English. At Liger, we took it to the next level. The Senior cohort, an our Khmer Facilitator organized the first ever Khmer MUN! We had two general assemblies with two topics in each. The topics in my general assembly related to chemical weapon of mass destruction and internet privacy control, and I was the delegate of France. During the first two weeks, I did research about the position France stands in this two topics. In addition to that, I explained my to my classmates who were new to MUN about what it is and how it goes, and assisted them throughout the researching process. Researching in English already requires skills and doing it in Khmer was even more challenging. There were a lot of times when I needed to translate my research into Khmer in a professional way.

The conference happened on the 23rd of May. Everyone who attended dressed up formally to really simulate the experience. It happened all in Khmer and it was really great to see everyone’s involvement throughout the day; we delivered opening speeches and wrote effective resolutions. Special thanks to out Khmer facilitator who made this happen, and the Khmer staffs who helped us along the way. I couldn’t wish for a better first Khmer MUN!

I think it is very important to have Model United Nations in Khmer. We are the future leaders of our country, and it is crucial we know how to address the world’s problems in Khmer in order to empower our people. I believe that Cambodian students should have the opportunity to do what we did with MUN, and if we can make that happen, it would be a big impact.

LMRT Trip May 24th – 29th

We were back on Koh Seh, probably for the last time of 2018. It was sad to think about that because I’ll miss diving, the work we did and the friendly people there. Anyways, we cherished every moment we had and be as productive as we can during this trip.

Because illegal and destructing fishing continues to happen, sediments in the ocean stirred up and caused bad visibility. This meant we couldn’t do the reef survey to monitor our artificial reef. However, we knew that it continues to restore organisms in the ocean!

To substitute for doing our underwater survey, we kept ourselves busy with other work. One of the work was making another cluster (fish aggregation device).

We also helped out with an official dolphin survey, since we were trained during the last trip. It was another new experience and made us realized we are not only there for doing reef surveys. 

We also used our time there to prepare for the conference we’ll be attending at the end of June. We got the privilege to attend the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Malaysia! There will be conservationists and marine biologists from all around the world coming to one place to discuss marine conservation. We believe we’ll be the youngest attendees there! We put all our effort into getting ready to represent Cambodia’s ocean, Liger and ourselves at the conference.

Set Design | Designing Costumes for the First Time

This year in June, Liger hosted a play for the first time! The play was called the Network; it is about the impact social media or the internet has on humans. I was part of the set design team and worked on designing the costumes. Since I’ve never worked with fashion before, I didn’t know much about costume designing and learned more about it along the process.

My teammates and I looked closely at the characters’ personalities and designed their outfits accordingly. We used Pinterests and Google images as inspirations. We collected pictures of many outfits for each character and elaborate on those ideas. To be honest, I wasn’t really good at drawing, so sometimes I used words to describe my ideas. By the end of the Exploration, we had plans for the characters’ outfits, but since we didn’t know the casts of the play, we couldn’t actually make them yet.

Collection of inspiration

Through this experience, I learned that costume designing includes skills beyond creativity. It requires organization and persistence; we needed to be organized with the ideas we collected and be persistent in finding more inspiration until we find the right costume.

Greece and Rome Influence our Modern World

In literacy class this term, we studied ancient civilization because in order to develop a society, we should look back at the societies in our history. One big thing we investigated is how there are many aspects of today’s world that derived from Greece and Rome. Below is an excerpt of my DBQ essay I wrote regarding the influence Greece and Rome have on the modern society.

Modern society is encompassed with entertainment and procedures that contribute to the convenience of everyday lives, but where did the ideas for the creation of modern society emerge from? In fact, the inspiration for modern society is rooted from Ancient Greek and Roman society. Many aspects that were practiced by ancient Greeks and Romans are something that’s practiced by modern citizens. The two main ancient societies had greatly influenced the development of current politics, entertainment, and medicine that are indispensable for a society.

Greece and Rome are well known for their government system and how they’re influential to that of today. Often, the politics of Western nations remind us of the democratic system, democracy, of ancient Greece and Rome. Based on Document 5, Greek society was the first to implement democracy into their government, and Rome took this political system to the next level. Athenian democracy allowed their citizens (only males) to shape their government, including voting. According to National Geographic News, election procedures and the justice system of America were influenced by ancient Greece. Additionally, Rome developed democracy to form a better government structure: they sparked the idea of “elected officials.” These people had the equivalent role a president or a king has in a country nowadays. They had control on defense and consider any dilemmas for the countries. Another fact is that Rome emphasized the value of citizen participation in the government and we can see that in Document 1: Pericles said, “we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.” This fact could remind us of many modern countries that mandate their citizens to serve in the military field. Here, one can see that the archaic Greek and Roman civilizations bring forth the legislation and authority that is still practiced in America and many other countries in present days.


Trip to WHO (Malaria and Dengue Fever)

On the 9th of April, as part of my Exploration, we went to World Health Organization (WHO) office in Phnom Penh to meet Dr. Luciano Tuseo, head of the malaria programme at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cambodia. Our goal was to learn more deeply about Malaria and Dengue fever and what has been done about this problem in Cambodia.

Participating in the presentation

There are 36000 diseases in Cambodia, and this doesn’t include any minor diseases. Two of those diseases are Malaria and dengue fever. What these diseases have in common is that they’re mosquito-borne diseases. We’ve learned from Dr. Luciano that in Cambodia, “Malaria is the past and dengue fever is the future.” This simply means that the number of malaria case has decreased, while the number dengue fever cases are drastically increasing. The main question was why. The answer is: scientifically, dengue mosquitoes (Aedes) pass on dengue fever virus to their offsprings, while malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles ) don’t.  

People in the urban are more vulnerable to dengue fever. Aedes likes to breed in small and clean water sources such as flower vase, and other containers. These materials are vastly available wherever there’s a large population. This is why it is recommended to remove any source of water around your home. 

As a developing country, the access to drugs and vaccine is the main health problem in Cambodia. In order to help with that, WHO had drug distribution campaigns.  Lack of Education is also a factor of public health problem in Cambodia. This is why we’re hoping to work with WHO or other organization to bring resources to those in need. 


How Ant Man Still Has His Super Strength When He’s Small

In physics class, we had a fun and challenging project, which we researched the physics behind a superhero of our choice. So, learn why Ant-Man still has his super strength when he’s small with my writing below!

Dr. Hank Pym invented a suit that allows someone to shift size: to the size of an ant. He did so by using the Pym particle to create the “reducing serum.” The suit is made out of “unstable molecules and steel mesh.” Ant-Man gains his size-shifting superpower from this remarkable suit. This super suit is capable of reducing size, while remaining typical human strength. But there are something about it that’s far from reality.

Square/Cube Law

Galileo created this law, which states “When an object undergoes a proportional increase in size, its new volume is proportional to the cube of the multiplier and its new surface area is proportional to the square of the multiplier.” In simpler words, if an object increases its size by two times, the volume would be eight times greater and the surface would be four times greater. This works the same way when an object shrinks: the volume would be eight times smaller and the surface would decrease by four times. This law also tells us that the strength associated with area and the mass associated with volume.

So if Ant-Man becomes the size of an ant, his area and volume would decrease accordingly. This would mean his strength and mass would diminish drastically! Since force link with mass, where did Ant-Man get his force to punch someone that’s greatly bigger than him when he’s the size of an ant? That’s quite far from reality. But if he breaks the Square/Cube Law and had his human-size mass, he would be able to maintain the force. That brings us to another problem. If Ant-Man has the same mass with a smaller volume, all the atoms would be compressed in a small size. He would be so dense that he would sink to Earth.

Then, how would that be possible?

Higgs Field and Pym Field

Higgs field is the reason objects in the universe have mass. If an object experiences a harder time going through Higgs field, it has more mass and less difficult means less mass. If we can change that difficulty (changing the strength between the object and the field), we can change the mass.

On the other hand, we are able to change the strength between an atom and Pym field (discovered by Pym Hank in the Marvel comic), therefore, change the size of an object. But It’s difficult to shift size because we can’t easily remove or add atoms. We don’t know where would those atoms come from or go to, and how would we ensure that it will come back together when we want to get back to the original size.

The comic recommends that those atoms can be stored in the Kosmos dimension. Another suggestion would be to modify the constant that controls the size of an atom. For example, Planck’s constant, which determines the radius of the atoms, can become 10 times smaller, making the radius of the atom 100 times small. The radius is only one dimension of an atom; if all dimensions become smaller, the size would become millions of time smaller, according to the Square/cube law. However, the mass would remain the same, making Ant Man’s body really dense.

So, what would make it possible?

Cross-interaction between Higgs field and Pym field

In order to make that happen, Higgs field and Pym field needs to work together to reduce the mass and size, respectively. So if the mass decreases, the size would also decrease to remain at the same density, but that would cause less strength. So when he needs to use his force, for instance when punching, Higgs and Pym field would have to disconnect. This means he could momentarily gain his original weight, and therefore, exert the same amount of force as he was his normal size. How Ant-Man can connect and disconnect between the two fields might have to connect with Kosmos dimension and Quantum Realm, where atoms can be stored.


LMRT Trip April 5th – 8th

We didn’t need to wait too long to see the impact made by our artificial reef! We went back to Koh Seh to check on our block and couldn’t believe what we saw. In just a month, the structure restored numerous species and more fish abundance. On average, the number of species increased from 6 to 17 species. For many of those species, the abundance increased dramatically. In particular, catfish didn’t appear in our baseline survey but during the first survey we did on this trip, we saw 50 catfish! We also brought down some rocks to put along our transect line; this is because the more things we put down there, the more chance coral will grow there. In addition to doing surveys, we also made a cluster. This time it’s bigger and took more effort from more people.

My highlight of the trip was seeing a really big trevally or jack! I’ve never seen a fish that big in real life before and I will never forget that moment.

LMRT Trip March 8th – 13th

There were so many exciting things happened during this trip. First of all, this was one of our longest trips, so we accomplished a lot this time. 

One of the activities the team did was making concrete blocks that will be used as anti-trawling artificial reefs. These blocks are there to destroy any trawling nets, and to act as marine organism habitats. MCC will eventually deploy 47 artificial reefs as part of the Marine Fishery Management Area (MFMA). This is a conservation project proposed by MCC that’s recently signed by the government. 

MFMA map (click on the image to know more about MFMA)


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Pouring cement into the mold to create blocks
Carving in our names after the blocks are a little bit dry

Another accomplishment was completing a cluster. That is a triangular bamboo shelter with ropes dangling into the water. This object is an alternative to the plastic buoys that are used to mark the location of the artificial reefs, while also providing a nursery for fish. In order to make this, we learned to tie some special knots and use strengths to ensure that those knots are secured. 

Tying the bamboo as part of the triangular cluster
A finished knot
The finished cluster

Every time we went to the island, we always do beach cleaning. This time we did a few beach cleans, and we figured out a way to make it more fun! We separated the waste into categories and one of those was “pretty things.” We took those things to create art projects. So not only we made the beach looks more pleasant, but we also make the island looks more beautiful with art pieces. An example of projects was decorating stairs with colorful bottle caps using cement.

Bottle cap stairs

We did those activities when we are free from doing our baseline survey. The baseline survey is what we’re going to compare our future data with. The survey site is the site for one of the 47 artificial reef structure. We did three replicates for the three survey: fish, invertebrates, and substrate.  I did the fish surveys. There weren’t that many organisms to record in the baseline survey. In the future, we would see more organisms as the artificial blocks do their job as habitat. We recorded that data we collected each night after each survey. 

Logging the data into the computer

The most exciting thing: deploy the first artificial reef structure of the MFMA! The team from MCC assisted us in this process. We took their big boat to our site and they worked with passion both on the surface and underwater to put the blocks together. This is the reef that LMRT will monitor for the rest of our project. Now, there are not a lot of life in the area and it would be amazing to see the impact these blocks will make in the future. 

MCC men dropping the blocks into the water
Excited for the blocks to be deployed!
Jumping into the water to see how they set up the blocks

This is weekend on the Island made me realize it takes more than knowing how to dive and conduct surveys to accomplish our goal. It takes a whole group of passionate and persistent people to share with each other the knowledge we have and work together to accomplish small things that build up to a big change.

Debriefing after a long weekend