We are celebrating the achievements of Malaria Consortium’s Dr Sylvia Meek scholars, who have benefited from a scholarship fund set up in 2016 to honour the legacy of one of our co-founders. Since the scholarships began, seven students have embarked on two-year Master’s programmes in entomology at one of three universities: Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand; the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; and the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
In our third look at the achievements of the scholars, we spoke to Schobiechah Aldillah Wulandhari who has completed her studies at Mahidol University.
I never thought that I would be one of the recipients of the Dr Sylvia Meek scholarship. I almost gave up on pursuing a Master’s degree in 2018, then my successful scholarship announcement came one week before the programme in the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University started. Medical entomology is one of the subjects that I have always been interested to study. I undertook a Bachelor’s degree in public health and, due to this interest, I studied lymphatic filariasis in Pekalongan, Indonesia for my undergraduate thesis. It was this that led to my motivation to make a contribution to the eradication of this disease in the future. When the desire meets the opportunity, there is nothing else I can do other than to be grateful for being able to undergo such a valuable experience as a scholarship recipient and being a graduate student in the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University, Bangkok.
I completed my Master’s degree after pushing through struggles and working with patience. The world has been facing the COVID-19 pandemic that forced us to stop our laboratory activity for some months. Since then, every work plan in the laboratory had to be adapted to be compliant with safety rules.
My thesis topic for my studies was urban scrub typhus. I got a lot of new and interesting experiences during this project learning about chigger mite identification and molecular work. There were some delays during my study as I had to scrape rodents’ ears to isolate those microscopic mite larvae and then had to count them one by one to understand the prevalence infection in the rodents. Also, more than a thousand chigger mites were required to be mounted on microscope slides for identification using traditional morphometrics and geometric morphometrics. My journey in the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University would not have been possible without the help from my advisors and colleagues that taught me how to identify chiggers and do molecular work.
I am grateful that the Dr Sylvia Meek scholarship has supported me until I have completed my degree in one of the best tropical medicine schools in the world. I have been taught by highly experienced lecturers and supported by great staff in an environment which has allowed me to truly enjoy student life in, my now second home country, Thailand.
In the future, I aim to become a researcher to contribute to the eradication of vector-borne diseases or other neglected tropical diseases to improve human health and well-being.
Malaria Consortium has begun a call for applications for new applicants to the Dr Sylvia Meek scholarship for Entomology in 2021. Learn more