A PhD Student’s Passion for Biodiversity

From an undergraduate in forestry, Mrs. Pham Thi Kim Dung now has become an PhD student, as well as a guide at Melinh Biodiversity Station. Her passion for the forest and its wild animal has attracted her to the station like a charm.

Ms. Dung sharing about biodiversity with a school group

The main building of the Me Linh Station

Mrs. Dung is one of the twelve workers currently in Me Linh Biodiversity Station, but her story could speak for all of them.  She started working at the station since 2014-2015 as a researcher on biodiversity and a guide for visitors who wants to learn about the forest and wild animals.

Sharing with us after a usual workday, Dung told the story of how she came to work here. Against her family’s opposition, she took the undergraduate course of forestry. At first, she thought forestry was simply about plants, but the more she learned, the more she understands that forestry includes not only plants, but also wild animals that need protection. She has decided to go further into this field.

After getting the bachelor’s degree, her advisor invited Dung to come work at Me Linh station, if she was interested. Her simple thought was only to try it out. She moved to the station on a Wednesday, started her job on Saturday, and still working here now. She sees her decision with animals and biodiversity station as a fate that life has given her.

“I like it and I do it”, said she.

We had a few chances to watch her at work, guiding and presenting the results of the station. Her main focus of research is on amphibians, reptiles such as frogs, and the way to protect them. Her presentation was engaging, and she knows Me Linh station like knowing her own house. During our night excursion, she showed us all the most interesting things. During our visit to the wounded animals in the station, she told us touching stories about them. She proudly introduced the station’s achievement and reminded us of our responsibility in the conservation of the environment, wild animals and biodiversity.

“Who will protect biodiversity on earth? It is you.”

We wondered how she lives here, if she has ever wanted to give up. Me Linh station is deep inside the forest, the living condition cannot compare to an ordinary city life, especially in technology to communicate with the outside world. Yet, Dung feels at home here. All these inconvenient things do not stop her from enjoying her job. Her passion cannot be defeated.

“Even my husband said that I can only live in the forest,” she laughed.

The only drawback is that education is now less accessible for her. “Sometimes, I wish I could go out and join a workshop, or have strong enough internet to join online courses, I would have had more knowledge for my job”, she shared with us.

To Dung, every day is a memorable memory.  Her passion is to show people the wonder and importance of biodiversity. The moment when a child, a student, or an individual understand her words, she feels nothing happier. It is what motivates her to work hard every day.


Nowadays, we hear a lot about environmental protection and climate change, but what did we really do that prevent it? People like Kim Dung is working restlessly day by day to not only inspire others, but also to devote her life to the forest. Thank you very much, the forest guardian!


The article is a contribution by a student of Academy of Journalism and Communication (AJC) in Viet Nam who from 19-20 April 2019 attended a field trip to the Me Linh Biodiversity Station, as a participant of a project on environmental journalism by FES Viet Nam and AJC. The project supports young and aspiring journalists to get immersed in the contemporary challenges of climate change and environmental degradation in Viet Nam. 



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