The impact of climate change has no borders – this is why a new Trent research initiative led by Dr. Huy Dang, School of the Environment and Department of Chemistry, is crossing disciplinary and geographic boundaries to find answers to this global challenge.
“A single person or nation cannot solve major global environmental problems – we need to work together,” Professor Dang explains. “Developed countries shall partner with developing countries to acquire knowledge about how to better address major environmental challenges at a global scale. This is essential for all nations to equally contribute to mitigating their carbon emissions.”
Building on a collaborative relationship established through the International Institute for Environmental Studies (IIES), Prof. Dang’s team and Trent research groups led by Dr. Karen Thompson, Dr. Ian Power, and Dr.Douglas Evans are partnering with researchers at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT) in Vietnam to investigate environmental pollution, sustainable agriculture and carbon capture. The project is funded through a National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance International Catalyst Grant, as well as support funding from Trent’s Office of Research and Innovation, Provost Travel Fund, the Office of the President, and the IIES.
A journey of 1,000 kilometres
A team of 11 Trent faculty members, graduate students and alumni visited Vietnam this fall, where they travelled over 1,000 km across six provinces to collect samples from ecologically diverse landscapes such as the Can Gio Mangrove and Cat Tien National Park, two essential UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Southern Vietnam. The group also shared knowledge and provided technical training on field sampling techniques to support the HCMUT researchers in conducting three independent research projects. They will visit Trent University in 2024 for more advanced hands-on training in the University’s state-of-the-art analytical facilities, such as the world-renowned Water Quality Centre.
Prof. Dang believes international collaborations such as these not only provide students with vital hands-on experience but also allow them to broaden their perspectives.
“It’s very important to provide international experiences to our students, which might represent life-changing opportunities but also significant challenges, such as language, technical, and cultural barriers,” Prof. Dang explains. “I hope that a few years from now, our students will become the environmental leaders who can advocate equal opportunity for all.”
An eye-opening experience for students
Environmental and Life Sciences graduate students Minh Duong and Ashlyn Kernaghan (Traill College) both gained valuable insight during the Vietnam visit which will impact their current and future research.
“I believe international collaborations such as this are essential for sharing knowledge in an Environmental Science/Studies context, such as examining natural processes and mechanisms within ecosystems and considering how anthropogenic factors could impact the balance of these ecosystems,” says Ashlyn. “Seeing how the Can Gio ecosystem has the potential to naturally filter the water coming
from Ho Chi Minh City has significantly impacted my current work and what I want to do for my future research.”
“This trip helped me connect the dots between my own knowledge and the knowledge obtained from others, from the lab to the world stage. I really see more clearly now the potential research I can conduct in the near future,” she adds. “It was an eye-opening opportunity for me in terms of awareness of the environment and the research potential we could tackle for local areas and for us all – as global citizens of a green earth.”
With this kind of enthusiasm and dedication, Prof. Dang plans to build on the growing relationship with HCMUT by formalizing the International Research Lab under the IIES. This will allow for productive knowledge and research exchanges and, in time, will create a dynamic network of global, accessible research facilities.