Gabrielle Wong, the founder of Discimus Foundation, is no ordinary UK-based teen. At just 17 years old, the future-forward thinking mastermind is already on her way to becoming a top-tier global changemaker in today’s tempest-tossed world. Thanks to her innovative software development system and machine learning model – GeoMosquito and MosquitoSat, the prospect of fighting vector-borne diseases like malaria seems more hopeful than ever before.
Although our world faces significant challenges, it’s important to remember that not everything is what the saying “doom and gloom” suggests. At present, we are presented with significant opportunities to address issues such as poverty and discrimination, mitigate violent conflicts, and more.
While these efforts continue to be areas for improvement, it’s evident that one of our most crucial tasks is protecting and rejuvenating the health of our planet. But how many of you feel like you have the power to contribute towards this vibrating impression?
Can our footprints really change the world?
Though it looks like the planet is set in its ways, it is, in fact, eminently open to transformation by those who dare to swim into the stream of history, alter the course, and proceed with hope. A word beating in the hearts of many passionate minds. For this reason, young trailblazers of this generation are indeed leading the way toward a sustainable future.
After all, our youth, through innovation and imagination, are today’s leaders in problem-solving and generating positive social change. Gabrielle Wong is one powerhouse individual whose efforts are being made to develop a more accurate and efficient solution for the greater good.
At just 17 years old, this UK prodigy has developed an innovative software development strategy and machine learning model. Wong is currently working to tackle one of the most severe public health problems worldwide – malaria.
Today, pockets of vulnerability in poverty-stricken countries, plus those in rural communities, have the most difficulty with vector-borne diseases like malaria because of restricted access to resources to protect themselves.
And with mosquitos at the forefront of transmission, it is considered a leading cause of death and disease [over 700,000 deaths annually to be exact]. A significant cause for concern is how young children and pregnant women are the groups most affected.
To address this issue and establish a long-term solution for illnesses transmitted by vectors, one of the first projects Wong ever did was to develop a software called GeoMosquito. “This monitors mosquito density malaria rates in SubSaharan Africa using satellite climate and agricultural data, most notably rice field data, that builds on a study done by Stanford,” says Wong.
“It’s a machine learning-based anthropological analysis which studies how rice harvesting reduced the effects of malaria control policies. From here, I built on the software and developed a machine called MosquitoSat that serves as a mosquito logging device,” she continues.
“It uses acoustic sensors to detect mosquitoes. However, I am also developing a function to eject BTI bacteria into bodies of static water that the model predicts to have mosquitoes.”
During the height of the pandemic, a sense of wonder and apprehension ignited within and allowed Wong to take action on a topic she was deeply passionate about. And her young efforts have not gone unnoticed. So far, the inspiring patent-pending work has since won first place in the Maxar Climate Mapping Challenge in the 2022 NFTE World Series of Innovation.
Providing even more accurate results is crucial in reducing these tiny biting machines. Although there has been a significant reduction in the global burden of malaria due to increased funding and political commitment, the rise of climate change and the emergence of other threatening diseases has since slowed progress.
Not to mention, places like Nigeria’s rice-producing state need more data as there are still unequal data collections compared to urbanized countries. “In the end, specifically, because it’s so rural, the collection methods were either too expensive, too remote to execute, or just not viable, given other factors,” Wong reveals.
But with the aid of MosquitoSat and GeoMosquito, leaders can essentially “clean through and filter the data, changing the RGB values to ensure that the machine has the highest accuracy in predicting it.”
“We’re building it in this very sustainable, easy software and a tiny machine, which is equipped with a drone, which means that it can be easier for people living in those rural communities to track down where the risk of mosquitoes might be essentially preventing them from contracting the disease,” Wong says.
Thanks to globalization and technology, the world has become even smaller. Still, with unlimited possibilities of connection, there is a unique chance for young people to unite in solidarity and make a big difference too.
Overall, Gabrielle Wong’s research and development on this issue aim to positively impact the planet and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. With an appreciation for it all – to give back, Wong has since launched the Discimus Foundation, which aims to provide quality computers and coding lessons to children worldwide.
“So far, we’ve partnered with five charities,” says Wong. “We’ve had over 9000 student attendance with over 800 lessons. Because of that, I have presented at many huge forums, such as the Women’s Forum For The Economy And Society and the UNESCO Learning Planet Festival.”
“I aim to continue developing new ideas to help everyone try new computational projects and solve the world’s most prevalent problems. It’s quite a big task,” shares the global innovator.
“But I think that if we take one step at a time by working with other computer scientists, and researchers, we can all collaboratively create a change to this and prevent any serious effects of potential disease transmission.”
So, can we make a real difference in the world? The answer, it seems, is a resounding “Yes!” We owe our optimism to trailblazers like these who bring hope to our future. And it is only just the start.
For information on Gabrielle Wong’s innovative tools and techniques to combat vector-borne diseases, visit her website here.