In 2015, Trent signed an international partnership with Nanjing University in China and created the International Institute for Environmental Science (IIES), an organization designed to bring together experts from universities around the world to collaborate on solving global environmental issues. The Institute—whose establishment depended greatly on IIES director and Trent professor emeritus Dr. Douglas Evans—has grown significantly in the intervening seven years, and now boasts 22 member institutions from 10 countries.
This year, at the seventh annual IIES conference in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the Institute welcomed the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology as a new member, with Dr. Cathy Bruce, vice-president, Research & Innovation at Trent University, signing the initiating agreement for Trent to establish new research collaborations between the two schools.
“The addition of Ho Chi Minh City UT as a member of the Institute is significant and will further our mission to promote environmental collaboration on a genuinely global scale,” said VP Bruce, who serves as chair of the Board of the IIES. “The IIES continues to grow its programming and in doing so expands its capacity to exchange knowledge and skills amongst its members. The environmental challenges we’re collectively facing requires just these kinds of partnerships.”
VP Bruce also met with the Vietnam Trade Commissioner, Ministry of Education personnel, and visited additional universities and schools aside from attending this year’s IIES conference.
While in Vietnam, President Leo Groarke signed a second agreement with the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMC UT) that included all IIES university partners, to agree to host researchers—scientists, field experts, faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, and students—from other IIES partner institutions, thus allowing Trent researchers to contribute to new communities and enlarge their research networks.
Significant Trent presence at 2022 IIES conference
Trent chemistry professor, Dr. Huy Dang, was the principal organizer of the 2022 IIES conference in Ho Chi Minh City, and was joined by several other faculty members and 20 graduate students from Trent University.
This year the conference featured an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to solving complex environmental challenges. This philosophy manifested itself at the conference’s graduate forum where all graduate students presented their research in just five minutes, highlighting research from a variety of fields. Students also had an opportunity for a longer 15-minute presentation and multiple networking opportunities to form professional and research connections with visiting faculty and peers.
“The forum was definitely one of the best aspects of the conference,” said Environmental & Life Sciences Ph.D. candidate, Hamant France. “Having the opportunity to meet some environmental giants and interact with them was pretty special.”
Hamant was one of a group of students from Trent chemistry professor Dr. Andrew Vreugdenhil’s lab attending the conference for the first time and presenting research linked to activated carbon at the conference. Activated carbon is a very high surface area material that acts like a chemical sponge and can be made from a variety of different waste materials; for example, wood waste, or petroleum coke—a by-product of processing oil sands. Hamant’s research is about creating activated carbon from greenheart wood by-product and using it to mitigate elevated levels of metal ions from pit lakes in Guyana. He attends Trent as part of the Sustainable Guyana Program.
Students from Professor Vreugdenhil’s lab also met with IIES member researchers doing similar work: using waste from banana production to create activated carbon for use in mitigating dye run-off from textile facilities. The knowledge and skills exchanged at the conference will contribute greatly to furthering these projects.