Protecting vulnerable regions from climate change

Ms Thi Dieu My Pham is the Director of the Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD) in Hue, Vietnam.  She was awarded an Australian Scholarship to complete a Master’s Degree in Natural Hazards and Disasters at ANU. 

Receiving a scholarship to study at ANU was a life-changing experience for My. Not only did she adapt to life in a new country with a new language, her entire approach to research shifted.

“The diversified study fields expanded my horizons and this really helps with my current work. We deal with several issues that require a holistic approach and critical analysis of different natural and social perspectives to provide effective interventions.”

Since returning to Vietnam, My has worked hard to put the skills she gained at ANU into practice. 

“I live in one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, where economic development is heavily affected by natural hazard impacts. I believe that natural disaster mitigation and risk management carried out by researchers, practitioners and communities will help mitigate the impact of climate change and contribute to the economic development of Vietnam.”

My looks back on her time at ANU with affection for both the people and landscape of Canberra.

“It’s true when people say that Canberra is the “bush” capital. I love the way they protect the environment and landscape.”

But there is one Canberra quirk she recalls with some bemusement.

“I was surprised to see people cycling with weird bicycle hats to avoid bird attacks!”

Such quirks aside, My is especially complimentary about the “erudite and friendly professors and lecturers”. She says that they helped her feel more confident and gave her the motivation to overcome language and culture barriers.

Two people in particular stand out as significant mentors both during her studies and in her professional life.

“The first is my former director and the founder of CSRD, Ms Lam Thi Thu Suu. She also graduated from Australia and motivated me to work in development to support disadvantaged people.

“The second is Dr Doracie Zoleta Nantes, the ANU course convenor of the Master of Natural Hazards and Disasters. She strongly influenced my academic life and showed me that there are no limits to women spending their life in academia.”

Written by Eva Medcalf