Name: McKenzie Momany ‘14
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Major: Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology
OCS Program: SIT Ecuador Comparative Ecology

Dengue is a mosquito-borne illness that affects around 100 million people every year in the tropics and subtropics. I completed a study in the coastal town of Puerto López, Ecuador to determine the incidence and level of knowledge the townspeople have about dengue. I interviewed 50 townspeople over the period of a month, questioning them about their history of dengue and knowledge of the disease. Results indicated a relatively low level of dengue, with no large changes in the incidence in the last five years. The knowledge of the people was found to be satisfactory only in terms of identifying the organism of transmission and how it reproduces, and lacking in regards to which mosquito transmits dengue, how it becomes infected, its appearance, and when it bites. Measures should be taken to increase the education of the people in order to better facilitate preventative measures and lower the incidence of dengue.

I absolutely loved doing an independent research project abroad - not only was I able to improve my Spanish language and interviewing skills, but the paper I wrote and the brochures I distributed in schools will help educate the people of Puerto López in regards to dengue transmission and prevention. In regards to my study abroad program as a whole, I particularly liked that a good portion of our classes and studying took place in the outdoors. We traveled to the Amazon, the Galápagos, and the cloud forest, and went on numerous other field trips during the semester. I couldn't be happier with the study abroad program that I picked!"