Alumni stories: ‘Doing research is not only just for graduation but also for the sake of science and society…’

We interviewed with our alumnus Sokly SIEV about his time studying Environmental Engineering (EnvE) at University of the Philippines Diliman (UP) in the Philippines and Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT) in Japan, and his experiences of attending the AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conferences (RCs) in 2014 and 2018.

1. How do the experiences of studying under AUN/SEED-Net scholarships in the Philippines and Japan benefit to you and your institution (ITC)?

I received a good standard and care for both living and studying in the Philippines and Japan. In term of living, I received enough financial supports, health insurance, administration supports. In term of studying, I acquired technical and research skills and also abilities to conduct independent research on a novel concept in environmental science and engineering. For example, I am able to do literature survey, conduct experiment and field survey, deeply discuss results and findings, write research proposal and scientific papers. Besides, I also learned how to communicate outputs and outcomes with experts as well as societies through publications and presentations in the domestic/international seminars, workshops and conferences.

For the benefit to ITC, I have conducted some workshops to share experiences and knowledge to ITC students. I also had a chance to teach undergraduate students after I received a Master’s degree from the Philippines.

2. Please share your experiences of joining AUN/SEED-Net RCs. How do you find its benefits?

In my opinion, joining the conference is a chance to share and communicate research findings and outcomes with experts and societies. In return, we can learn and expand our research network with them. AUN/SEED-Net RCs are created for this purpose. Fortunately, I had opportunities to join the RC on EnvE for two times conducted in Palawan, the Philippines in 2014 and in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2018 where I was able to present and discuss my research findings with other expert having a similar/same research field.  

3. About “Best Paper Award” from RC EnvE 2018, can you share with us what the paper is about? How does your Japanese advisor support you in this research?

I received a Best Paper Award from RC EnvE 2018 which is my 3rd best paper award in my research career. The title of the presented paper was “Integration of Hydrological and Hydraulic Models for Simulating Flood Pulse and Inundation Area in Tonle Sap Lake”. This study was one part of my doctoral dissertation entitled of “Sediment Dynamics in the Floodplain of Tonle Sap Lake”. In brief, Tonle Sap Lake is the largest lake in Southeast Asia and water flow is a primary mean of sediment transport and delivery in the lake basin. To fully understand sediment dynamics (e.g. sedimentation and resuspension), hydrodynamics (flow and inundation) in Tonle Sap Lake must be investigated and understood first. Therefore, this presented paper aimed to simulate reversal flow and inundation area in Tonle Sap Lake using a distributed hydrological model (GBHM) and a simple 2D inertial hydrodynamic model (Caesar-Lisflood). As a result, the models were able to reproduce the hydraulic and reversal flow in Tonle Sap Lake for further investigation of sediment dynamics.

4. How does your Japanese advisor support you in this research?

I could never have done this research without my team members and supervisor Asso. Prof. Chihiro Yoshimura. Although I had to all the research works, he constantly provided constructive guidance and comments on my research direction, proposal and novelty to ensure that I did not lose the way. In addition, he managed research funds very well to support my field trips so that I could collect enough and reliable data from the field. He also seriously checked the quality and contents of my research papers in order to ensure high possibility of chance of acceptance. Therefore, his efforts contributed to my doctoral research and graduate.    

5. What do you want to tell your friends about doing research or studying? Any tips on how to be successful in studying and academic/research career?

Doing research is not only just for graduation but also for the sake of science and society. However, sometime it can be disappointed and stressful when the result does not match your expectation and hypothesis. It is necessary to find out what is the reason/problem. Here is my general rule to solve any problems:

  • Define your problem
  • Find out root cause of the problem
  • Find possible solution and make plan
  • Implement the solution and plan

6. What about your future plan?

I would like to help my country as much as I can in the right way based on my acquired knowledge through research and education upon my return to Cambodia in the near future.

Sokly SIEV was endorsed by Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) to join AUN/SEED-Net to study a Master’s Degree Program of Environmental Engineering (UP, 2012-2014) and Doctoral Degree Program in Japan (TIT, 2015-2018) under AUN/SEED-Net scholarship. Right after graduation, he started working as a postdoctoral researcher for Yamagata University and also a visiting postdoctoral researcher at TIT.