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Award-winning Vietnamese researcher fights for clean environment

Thursday, February 14, 2019, 18:22 GMT+7
Award-winning Vietnamese researcher fights for clean environment
Pham Thi Phuong Thuy is one of the ten young scientists honored with the Golden Globe Awards 2018.

Pham Thi Phuong Thuy is one of the ten young scientists honored with the Golden Globe Awards 2018, a science award for young Vietnamese talents in the science-technology field.

The female scientist, who has a doctorate, won the award in the category of Environmental Science.

“I have seen a viral clip of a worker going down underground sewers to clean up all the garbage there,” Thuy said. “I feel ashamed of the lack of consideration of many Vietnamese.”

Having studied abroad for many years, Thuy is used to streets and sidewalks free of garbage. But when she came back to her home country, Thuy has witnessed many people littering without even covering up their actions.

This was one of the main reasons that encouraged her to pursue environment studies and lead an environment-friendly lifestyle.

Being an environmentalist, the 35-year-old academic refuses to use single-use plastic products, especially cups, straws, and boxes for take-away food.

She would never return to any coffee shop that provides single-use plastic cups even for customers who consume their drinks in-house.

“Not everyone knows that the widely-used plastic cups are usually made of recycled plastic, which has a negative impact on human health,” Thuy said, adding that a lack of understanding is the main reason for the abuse of single-use plastic products in her country.

Volunteers of Ho Chi Minh City helping the workers taking out the garbage stuck in channels. Photo: Q. Ng. / Tuoi Tre
Volunteers help workers take out the garbage stuck in a channel in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Q. Ng. / Tuoi Tre

Thuy graduated from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, after which she received a scholarship to study for a master’s degree in South Korea. She stayed in the East Asian country to work as a researcher and finish her doctorate.

She then moved to work in Singapore for three years before returning to Vietnam, where she teaches at the University of Food Industry in Ho Chi Minh City.

As a college lecturer, Thuy takes advantage of her meeting with young people to share with them how important it is to have a green and environment-friendly lifestyle.

Thuy said she does pride herself on the positive impacts she can make as a college lecturer and a role model for young adults.

Thuy now leads a study on using temperature and high pressure to turn solid waste into coal, a form of combustible resource for energy, a research topic she pursued during her time in Singapore.

She also has plans to study the feasibility of turning waste generated by apartment dwellers into fertilizers that will be used for the green space of the same building complex.

Thuy said she is concerned about the lack of public trash bins in Vietnam, which she believes is partly to blame for widespread littering in the streets.

“But I believe this can be changed if both authorities and members of the public are determined,” she added.

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