Professor Duong Quang Trung is a celebrated success story and shining example of the British Council’s capacity-building agenda focused on young local scientists. With resources from the Newton Fund, he is generating opportunities for learning, research and networking between Vietnamese scientists, the UK and other countries.
Hailing from the ancient town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam, Professor Duong Quang Trung now works at Queen’s Belfast University (one of the top 24 universities in the UK) as a third-ranked professor on a four-rank scale (Reader). His main job involves research in the telecommunications field and teaching students. As a brilliant young scientist who has won numerous awards and scientific research funding (£3 million over the past four years), Prof Trung believes British Council research support through the Newton Fund provided a critical foundation to build on his doctorate for further success.
In 2014, the British Council was the first sponsor that brought the young professor (aged 35) back to Vietnam to attend the “Connecting young Vietnamese and British scientists” meeting. The workshop was his stepping stone to build and connect research teams in Vietnam. The next year, Prof Trung and his team successfully enlisted sponsorship from the UK Government’s Newton Fund administered by the British Council.
“In April 2014, I was sponsored by the British Council to attend a workshop connecting young scientists in Vietnam and the UK. That led me to work with colleagues from Duy Tan University on a project called ‘Laying the groundwork for sustainable development: Connected society for future cities’ and managed to pool a £220,000 fund for the study. This project went on to win the Newton 2017 Award. I was then awarded more than a dozen other projects from the British Government, but the British Council’s Newton Fund – the first sponsored project – made the difference in my career with science. It allowed me to build a foundation and especially the confidence to drive projects forward to success,” he said.
The research project that won the Newton 2017 Award, along with associates and Dr Vo Nguyen Son from Duy Tan University, was deemed extremely valuable for Vietnam and the world. Essentially, it uses information and telecoms technology to maintain communications in challenging conditions, such as during natural disasters and within environmental pollution, when other network systems have been destroyed or congested. This system also helps to provide early warnings for natural disasters and contamination levels as well as connects with medical relief in the field. The project has conducted a large number of trainings, networking and exchange activities between research communities in Vietnam, the UK and globally.
Another meaningful scientific link financed by the Newton Fund – the annual International Summer School founded by Prof Trung in 2015 – helps Vietnamese students to get involved, improve their understanding and become familiar with ongoing academic activities in the advanced global educational systems, with involvement from world-leading universities. Prof Trung said that after three rounds of activities, 39 out of 66 summer camp participants have been awarded full Master’s or Doctorate scholarships in the UK as well as Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, Taiwan and the US.
The partnership between Prof Trung and the British Council has been fruitful, with four projects under the auspices of the Newton Fund. “The British Council has the passion and always does everything it can to support science. The projects sponsored by the British Council are producing positive results and providing the vital interface for Vietnamese scientists to reach out to the advanced research sector in the UK,” he said.
About the Newton Fund
The Newton Fund builds partnerships between the United Kingdom and 17 countries to upgrade the capacity for research and innovation and expand socio-economic development opportunities in the partner nations for sustainable development purposes. The Fund has a total financial pool of £735 million from the British Government and counterpart funding from partner countries by 2021.
On the UK side, the Newton Fund is run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and directly implemented by seven specialist agencies, including the UK Research and Innovation Agency, academies, British Council and UK Meteorology Agency.
The Newton Award is an annual £1 million award presented to the best studies or initiatives that promote economic development and social benefits in the developing world. More than 150 projects, exchange scholarships or other grants under the Newton Fund from India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have applied for the Newton Award. Twenty-five have reached the finals and five awards (£200,000 in value each) have been presented to winners to develop existing projects under the Newton Fund.
Scientists are encouraged to participate in the Newton Fund as partners of the UK and resolve the most important challenges that Newton Fund partner countries are facing. The award is proof of the close partnership between the UK and Newton partner countries in their efforts to deal with current global challenges.
For more information on the Newton Fund, visit www. newtonfund.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter @NewtonFund