Picture: the kickoff of the program on 23rd of November 2019

AAA-C has heard more and more from our members and other Australian alumni on their difficulty in seeking support and guidance when they long to pursue PhD in Australia. Moreover, Australia Awards Scholarship is now including master through research (MPhil) as part of its scholarship program for Cambodian citizen. Having seen the need to support our members and public on their pursuance of higher education, knowing that there have been more and more Alumni holding PhD or MPhil from Australia, and knowing that promoting Australian education and supporting individual wishing to study in Australia is listed in AAA-C’s Charter, AAA-C initiates this mentorship program with the main objective to provide opportunity for the Australian alumni holding PhD or MPhil to support our fellow alumni and public beyond their close network; and for our alumni and public to receive guidance and support from the same.

This mentorship program lasts for five months, starting from the kickoff event 23rd of November, 2019 to April 30, 2020. This program is made possible by the main contribution from our Australian alumni who contribute their valuable time and knowledge to be a mentor for the interested candidates who are committed to pursue their study in their master through research (MPhil) or PhD in Australia.

Through the survey AAA-C did in August 2019, there were 15 alumni holding PhD or PhD candidate expressing their interest to be mentors. Through the call for Expression of Interest from members and non-members (mentees) via AAA-C email and Facebook page between November 3 and 15, 2019, 27 participants expressed their interest to be mentees.

There were six of the alumni holding PhD participating the kickoff on the 23rd of November at the Learning Jungle International School, in which 11 potential mentees from our members and public attending. The session was serving as a sharing session for the potential mentees to hear from the potential mentors on academic, personal and life experience on the PhD journey. After the kickoff, 11 pairs of mentor and mentee were matched, in which three mentors are female and four mentees are female.

Here are brief profiles of some of the mentors that are part of this first PhD/MPhil Mentorship Program.

These profiles are arranged per alphabetical orders of the family name of each mentor.

Dr. CHANN Sopheak

Dr. CHANN Sopheak is a lecturer at the Department of Natural Resource Management and Development, Royal University of Phnom Penh and an honorary associate at Geography Department, Royal Holloway University of London.

Dr. Chann received his PhD in Human Geography from the University of Sydney in 2017 and a master degree in Applied Sciences, Spatial Information Science also from the University of Sydney in 2009. Dr. Chann did his bachelor degree in Environmental Management at the Royal University of Phnom Penh from 2002 to 2006.

Dr. Chann’s research interests are political ecology of post-conflict resource landscapes, critical cartography and climate changes. Dr. Chann’s primary research tools are GIS, informal interview and ethnography. Dr. Chann has published and prepared for publication in the leading international journals in the fields of Geography, development studies, and critical mapping/GIS. Currently, Dr. Chhan is working in various research projects with Royal Holloway, University of London, Australian National University, and Michigan State University. In addition to academic research, he has been conducting policy and legal research on land and resources politics in Cambodia with NOGs, including United Nation Development Program (UNDP), Cambodian Resource Development Institute, People In Need (PIN) and Solidarity Centre (SC).

Dr. ITH Ponndara

Dr. ITH Ponndara is a medical doctor and general surgeon and is currently the Head of the Bureau of Academic and Training Affairs and International Relations, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Health Sciences in Cambodia.  In his current role, his work is focused on improving the Education methods for medical professionals in Cambodia.

In 2003, Dr. Ith was granted an Australian Development Scholarship to study a Master of Public Health at University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. While serving as Chief of a provincial health department, he was selected to undertake a PhD on a prestigious Australia Awards scholarship at UNSW and then transferred to University of Technogloy, Sydney, Australia (UTS).

After completing his PhD, Dr. Ith focused on reforming maternal care in public hospitals in Cambodia by increasing the availability, accessibility, quality and utilisation of Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care services. He has instigated significant change in the health system by developing a quality improvement plan for maternity care in public health facilities. Dr. Ith is also an international reviewer of peer-review journal articles.

Dr. Ith was awarded by the Faculty of Health, the UTS Alumni Award for Excellence in 2018 and he has been honorary appointed as an Adjunct Professor to UTS since 1 January 2019. In May 2019, Dr. Ith was invited by the UTS Chancellor to give an occasional address to the UTS graduates during UTS graduation ceremony.

Dr. KHIM Keovathanak

Dr. KHIM Keovathanak has over 15 years of work experience in community health development and health system strengthening in Cambodia. He currently works for ACCESS program as Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager. As an Australia Leadership Awardee,  Dr. Khim graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in health system and financing in 2014 from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He holds Master of Public Health (2001, New York University, USA) and a Bachelor in Education (1997, from RUPP, Cambodia). Previously Dr. Khim worked for University of Health Sciences in Cambodia and for different health organisations (Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Population Services International (PSI)) and as an independent health sector consultant. Dr. Khim has published several articles in international peer-reviewed journals and continues to engage in research studies for development programs in areas of quality improvement, impact evaluation, public sector job performance, job motivation and incentives.

Dr. LAY Sok Heng

Dr. LAY Sok Heng is currently a Deputy Director of the Economic Research and International Cooperation Department, National Bank of Cambodia. Dr. Lay also works as a part-time lecturer at the Center for Banking Studies, teaching Principles of Microeconomics, Monetary Economics to undergraduate, and at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, teaching Applied Economics to postgraduate.

Dr. Lay earned his Doctor of Philosophy, Economics from the University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia in 2018. His research interests are International Economics, Development Economics and Applied Econometrics. Dr. Lay has published several articles in regional journals.

Dr. MAO Nara

Dr. MAO Nara is holding Bachelor of Education, Master of Agricultural Economics, Master of Asia Pacific Studies and, a PhD in Business from Victoria University. Dr. Mao has published some articles and also supervised students to publish research articles in international peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Mao is currently, a business consultant, board of director of Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF) and academic who has 37 years of teaching experience. Beginning his teaching career as a primary and high school teacher since 1993, Dr. Mao has excelled himself to teach at higher education and has taught Research Methodology, Business Strategy, Leadership and other subjects at four Cambodian public universities.

Dr. NGOUN Kimly

Dr. NGOUN Kimly is Director of Research and Editor at the Asian Vision Institute (AVI). He is also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Studies of the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). Dr. Ngoun holds a PhD in Political Science from the Australian National University (2017), a Master Degree in Southeast Asian Studies from Chulalongkorn University (2007), and a Bachelor Degree in Education (B.Ed, TEFL) from RUPP (2003). Dr Ngoun was a Visiting Fellow at the ANU’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs between April and July 2019. Dr. Ngoun has published articles in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, South East Asia Research, New Mandala, East Asia Forum, and The Interpreter of the Lowy Institute. Dr. Ngoun has provided expert analyses to various local and international media outlets including Radio France International (RFI), Voice of America (VOA), Australia’s ABC, The Straits Times, and Nikkei Asian Review.

Dr. PEN Rany

Dr. PEN Rany is currently serving as Assistant Resident Representative (in charge of Programme) for UNDP Cambodia where she is responsible for managing programmes and projects under her portfolio and coordinating and providing relevant technical inputs in partnership building and resource mobilization. Dr. Pen previously worked for UNDP Cambodia between 2008 and 2012 before taking a study and research break from 2012 to 2016. Dr. Pen has more than 10 years of experiences with UN, academia and civil society organizations both in Cambodia and abroad. She started her career in judicial reform and justice sector working for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and civil society organizations in Cambodia. Dr. Pen earns her PhD degree in cultural studies from the University of Sydney, Australia in 2016 and her Master of Laws (specialized in criminal law and criminology) from the University Jean Moulin, France in 2004.

Dr. SANN Socheata

Dr. SANN Socheata is The Asia Foundation’s program director in Cambodia. In this capacity, Dr. Sann oversees a portfolio of programs to empower women and youth, strengthen governance, advance regional cooperation and increase environmental resilience and bringing direct day-to-day program support and learning to the program staff while spearheading the development of new programs.

Prior to joining the Asia Foundation, Dr. Sann served in several positions as a road safety program manager and consultant in different international organizations. Dr. Sann has more than fifteen years of experience, managing programs related to road safety and working on disability issues. Dr. Sann engaged with a wide range of activities and initiatives from national policy development to grassroots project implementation, such as research, road safety education, public awareness, community based promotion and publications of guidelines, curricula and journal papers. Dr. Sann has also built her cross-cultural experience by working with people and environment in different countries, such as Australia, Belgium, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar and Benin. Over the past four years, Dr. Sann has completed a number of independent consulting assignments for the Asian Development Bank, Humanity & Inclusion, UNESCAP, Adidas Cambodia and German Development Cooperation, in Cambodia and across the region, particularly ASEAN.

Dr. Sann holds a doctoral degree in Health, majoring in Road Safety from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and a master’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance from Panasastra University of Cambodia.


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