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Hoang Thi Hang and Bui Thang Trang

I see this opportunity to do my PhD in both Vietnam and Belgium as an opportunity for my entire community.

Hoang Thi Hang and Bui Thang Trang

Meet Hoang Thi Hang

My name is Hoang Thi Hang, I am 25 years old. I was born and raised in the beautiful Dak Lak Province, a central mountainous region, in the middle of Vietnam, known for its thundering waterfalls and endless coffee plantations.

I relocated to Quy Nhon six years ago for my education. Equipped with a bachelor's degree in Physics teaching & education and a master's in Solid State Physics, I'm currently pursuing a PhD in Physics at Quy Nhon University.

During my early years, Physics wasn't my initial interest, but an inspiring high school teacher ignited my passion. This led me to pursue a bachelor's degree in physics education. After four years, I found myself guided by a mentor in the field of nanomaterial research, which has shaped my current academic path.

“There are still moments when people are astonished when learning what I do. But, times are changing and Physics is becoming a more inclusvie and diverse domain.”

As I've walked this path, I encountered skepticism about women in Physics and was sometimes told Physics is a field of study for men. However, times are changing. Although there are still moments when people are astonished when learning what I do, the landscape is evolving, and Physics is becoming a more inclusive and diverse domain. Luckily, my parents supported my choice.

My PhD journey spans Quy Nhon University and KU Leuven in Belgium. I'm about to embark on my first 5-month stay abroad, a mix of excitement and nerves, but my motivation and support keep me focused.

Anticipating my journey, I've researched Belgium, envisioning it as a modern land with varying seasons. My teacher and fellow PhD students who've been to KU Leuven provided guidance. I'm thrilled to experience Belgium firsthand.

Meet Bui Thang Trang

I'm Bui Thang Trang, originally from Dak Lak Province but now living in Quy Nhon for my studies. Married for 5 years with two young children (5 years and 18 months old), I'm the first in my family to pursue higher education, setting an example for my younger siblings.

Physics holds a special place in my heart. It's a key to understanding the world, nature, and life itself. I believe Physics can address various societal challenges, from environmental protection to energy conservation.

I'm currently enrolled in a sandwich PhD program, splitting my research between Quy Nhon University and UGent in Belgium. This unique opportunity promises substantial professional and personal growth.

“I never had grand plans to study or work abroad; my focus has always been on working hard and achieving the best results. I see this opportunity to do my PhD in both Vietnam and Belgium as an opportunity for my entire community.”

Leaving my family to embrace this new opportunity does come with some worries and challenges that will need careful planning. I have tremendous support, which motivates me.

I never had grand plans to study or work abroad; my focus has always been on working hard and achieving the best results. Actually, this will be the first time travelling outside Vietnam. This opportounity is a big milestone in many ways.

I aim to contribute to concrete solutions for our community. The chance to go to Europe has ignited my motivation to explore the unknown. I see the PhD program not only as an opportunity for myself but for our entire community.

Girls and women in STEM-education

Today, there's a higher enrollment of girls in schools than ever before, yet they don't always enjoy equal opportunities as boys when it comes to fully benefiting from the education they desire. Numerous girls and women find themselves constrained by biases, societal norms, and expectations that impact the quality of education they receive and the subjects they pursue.

Notably, there is a significant underrepresentation of females in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. According to UNESCO, in 2019 the average global rate of female researchers was only 29.3% and just 35% of STEM students in higher education were women.

This gender imbalance is a cause for concern, particularly because STEM careers are frequently hailed as the professions of the future, driving innovation, societal well-being, inclusive economic growth, and sustainable development.

Although enrolment and graduation of students from higher education has evolved towards higher female participation, the academic world still faces huge challenges in dealing with gender equality, which should be seen in a historical context. VLIR-UOS continues to strive for more gender equality, both for scholarship programmes and project fundings.

The positive changes aimed at the IUC in Quy Nhon University

With overall 7 sub-projects, the IUC (Institutional University Cooperation) at Quy Nhon University seeks to improve farmers' lives in the region by boosting education and research in key areas like agriculture, food technology and renewable energy.

Trang and Hang are part of subproject 2, aiming to enhance solar drying and biogas using new nanomaterials. In rural Vietnam, sun-drying staples like rice and seafood is common, but unreliable due to changing weather. Farmers need dependable alternatives. Integrating nanomaterials in drying systems offers a promising solution, increasing local produce's economic value.

The efforts and contributions of Hoang Thi Hang, Thanh Trang; their promotors and fellow researchers carry the potential to enact profound socio-economic transformations, amplifying the well-being of farming communities while catalysing sustainable progress.