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Alumni Highlight: Seinn Lei Aye
March 29, 2022

Seinn Lei Aye


I am Professor Dr. Seinn Lei Aye from the Environment and Water Studies Department of University of Yangon, Myanmar. I attended the 2019 Fulbright U.S.-ASEAN Visiting Scholar program from September 1st, 2019 to December 31st, 2019. My host Institution was the Institute of Environment, Sustainability, and Energy, Northern Illinois University, USA. I left Yangon on August 31st, 2019, and arrived back on January 1st, 2020. 

I conducted the Treatment and Analysis of Surface Water and Groundwater for Drinking Purpose for my research. Lack of access to drinking water and exposure to waterborne diseases from unsafe drinking water is a problem for rural communities in Myanmar. Nearly all water-related diseases are caused by the lack of provision of sufficiently clean water for the community. According to official figures from the Myanmar Ministry of Health and WHO, 6.7 % of Myanmar children die under the age of five from diarrhea. Myanmar possesses plenty of surface water such as rivers, lakes, non-protected springs and ponds. Most of this surface water is contaminated because societies living near the water use it for washing clothes, bathing, and animal watering. Insufficient sanitation measures lead to fecal contamination and bacteria in the water sources that are used for drinking and cooking. In Myanmar, 70 percent of people live in rural areas and most of them are poor. Therefore, I chose to focus my research on low-cost technology which would be beneficial to rural communities in Myanmar. 

I conducted the effectiveness of clay filters for the removal of bacteria (coliform and E.coli) from the surface water. Clay filtration is the process of passing water through a porous clay material. It is a promising way to reduce the burden of water-borne diseases; it is affordable in terms of cost and made from local resources. I collected the water samples from the creek which is situated within the campus of Northern Illinois University.

Myanmar’s water bodies are facing increasing pollution from agricultural chemicals, industry, mining, urban development and inappropriate disposal of sewage and solid wastes. Myanmar has a serious water problem when it comes to quality and supply management. Therefore, I conducted the water quality analysis (physical, chemical and biological) of groundwater samples from five different counties of Illinois State, USA. The sampling sites were in DeKalb, Kilbuck, Woodstock, and Aurora. 

During my research in the U.S., I also gave two seminars and three lectures at different universities. Moreover, I formed an international expert team for curriculum development of BSc in Water Studies which will be offered at the University of Yangon (UY) in December 2020. The expert team will visit UY from March 8th to March 14th to develop the curriculum.

During my study in the U.S. I learned about advanced technology, applied advanced instruments, improved my English language skills, built networks with experts in the same discipline and got to know the Western culture too.