Postcard from Vietnam: grad student researches the human and environmental risks of agricultural growth

By Steven Lam

Fast forward a few months later, I reached out to him to supervise a project, an opportunity made possible through the Mitacs Globalink Research Award.

I am a master of public health student at the University of Guelph. I am working on a project titled “Health risks of agricultural intensification in Vietnam,” under the supervision of Dr. Sherilee Harper at the University of Guelph, Dr. Tran Thi Tuyet Hanh at the Hanoi School of Public Health, and Dr. Nguyen Viet Hung at the International Livestock Research Institute.

Our research focuses on animal and human waste management, a growing concern among the public and policy-makers alike. Increased livestock production, combined with traditional technologies and management practices may present risks to humans and the environment. Our collaboration seeks to better understand what these risks are, explore challenges and solutions, and inform policy. We need to understand and address waste management for sustainable agricultural production while protecting human health and natural resources.

While remaining sensitive to social and cultural factors, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing key stakeholders and farmers to explore waste management issues from their perspectives. During my research, I also explored traditional and innovative waste treatment systems. My field visits and interactions with community members have been positive, eye-opening, and motivating.

The best parts of this experience are working with talented researchers, building long-lasting relationships, and connecting with local farmers and stakeholders. I can confidently say that my three-month stay in Vietnam has so far been one of the most rewarding experiences for both my personal and professional development. I am passionate about environmental sustainability and with the assistance of the Globalink Research Award, I have had an incredible opportunity to put my passion to work and contribute to a better understanding of waste management in Vietnam. 

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Globalink Research Award program in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support this award, including Campus France and Inria, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Scienceand Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities:


Mitacs empowers Canadian innovation through effective partnerships that deliver solutions to our most pressing problems. By driving economic growth and productivity, we create meaningful change to improve quality of life for all Canadians.