Exchange Program Sparks Collaboration in Research, Clinical Sciences, and Teaching

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Exchange Program Sparks Collaboration in Research, Clinical Sciences, and Teaching

The 2023 USDA Faculty Exchange Program (FEP) held at UC Davis is forging a new path for exchanging ideas and collaboration in research, clinical sciences, and teaching. Thanks to an exciting partnership between universities in Vietnam, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Vietnamese faculty members are being hosted until December of 2023, and UC Davis faculty mentors will be hosted in Vietnam in 2024.

Run by the Foreign Agricultural Service division of the USDA, faculty exchange programs had previously focused mainly on partnerships in the Africa region, but more recently they have expanded to organize programs with partners from the Asia region.

Ten faculty fellows from universities across Vietnam have been paired up with UC Davis SVM and CAES faculty for mentorship, according to compatibility of research, clinical, or teaching interests. The fellows are diverse in terms of their fields of interest, which range from animal nutrition to biotechnology and nano sensors to clinical applications.

"Comparing food production systems, teaching systems, and cultural systems across UC Davis and Vietnamese universities has sparked innovation and an interest in trying new ideas based on successes to date,” said SVM Associate Dean Woutrina Smith.

The program hit the ground running with an emphasis on group activities, including weekly research webinars and field trips. The fellows thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to visit and learn about UC Davis research laboratories, including Bodega Marine Laboratory, the California Animal Health & Food Safety Lab system, and more. Starting in September, activities are transitioning toward specific faculty research, clinical, or teaching interests, through shadowing and collaborative research opportunities.

“I personally look forward to participating in person in practical and theoretical classes to learn about the veterinary teaching methods at UC Davis,” said Dr. Duong Duc Hieu, a faculty member at Vietnam National University of Agriculture in Hanoi with research interests in contagious diseases that move from animals to humans. “I hope to be able to join different research groups with specialized research projects to gain more practical experiences.”

Faculty members at both UC Davis and the Vietnamese universities hope that the collaborations that this exchange program brings will be long-lasting and far-reaching in terms of future opportunities. Dr. Ngo Hong Phuong, a faculty in the Animal Nutrition Department at Nong Lam University, Ho Chi Minh City, whose research and teaching interests lie in pet nutrition and the impact of behavior on digestion and nutrient absorption, said, “I hope this program will last for many years in the future to develop a cooperative relationship between the Universities in Vietnam and UC Davis, creating many opportunities to exchange lecturers between the two countries to improve professional qualifications. In addition, it can be expanded to give our students the opportunity to be an intern at UC Davis and vice versa.”

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