Marie Netopilová

My personal experience with data collection in Cambodia

„Cambodia is a spectacular natural beauty, filled with cultural sites and captivating people“. This is one of the sentences describing Cambodia that you can find on the internet. However, my colleagues and I went to this beautiful country for another reason than to admire cultural sites. Our goal was clear: We wanted to collect plant material for our future work in Laboratory of Ethnobotany and Ethnofarmacology at Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences.

Our laboratory is focused on the study of chemistry and bioactivity of underutilized crops of tropical and subtropical origin, where we currently (besides other things) work on antimicrobial activity of essential oils obtained from tropical plants.

Several months before the departure, we started to prepare ourselves thoroughly for the trip; we carefully researched the literature, we investigated the information about plants growing in this tropical region, we tried to find out their scientific and khmer names etc.

However, time passed quickly and in what seemed like a moment, we arrived to the Royal Agricultural University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. This was our base from which we took individual expeditions to different areas (mainly forests and national parks) and where we always returned with the obtained material, which we then dried and processed there. Moreover, we distilled essential oils in local laboratory using the Clavenger apparatus.

Even though the collection of plant material and the distillation of essential oils was the main aim of our expedition, we still had many opportunities to get to know Cambodian people, food, drinks, culture, architecture, religion and much more. For me, it was one of the best work experiences at our faculty and I am really looking forward to the next expedition!

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