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Dr. Mai Thi Nguyen, Associate Professor of Planning at the Department of City & Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was part of a small international team that was recently rewarded the 2019 Bronze Medal for Regional Plans by the Vietnam Urban Planning and Development Association. This award is a significant accomplishment that will hopefully lead to improved development practices in Vietnam. The award is sponsored by Vietnam’s Ministry of Construction, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Dr. James Spencer, Professor of City & Regional Planning and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at Clemson University, in partnership with the Vietnam Institute for Urban and Rural Planning, led the project in 2015. The team closely examined the economic development potential for tourism in a Global Geopark in Dong Van, Vietnam. Dr. Nguyen served as the primary international resource point person on the topic of community development and was instrumental in developing this award-winning regional plan.

Dr. Nguyen’s current research focuses on housing policy, social and spatial inequality, and socially vulnerable populations. In addition to her teaching and research responsibilities, Dr. Nguyen serves as Director of the New Faculty Programs at the Institute for Arts and Humanities. She is currently interim MURAP Program Director and Chairperson of the Urban Affairs Association Governing Board.

Most recently, Dr. Nguyen was awarded a conference travel grant from the Carolina Asia Center, which will support her participation in an international urban planning workshop at the Rajamangala University of Technology Isan in Thailand this August. During this workshop, she will give a lecture on training strategies for best urban planning practices from a U.S. perspective, with the goal that attendees from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Taiwan will incorporate those strategies in a development plan for a historic community in Thailand. Dr. Nguyen also looks forward to the opportunity to establish relationships with universities in Southeast Asia, and to further explore urban studies research in the region.

For more information on Carolina Asia Center’s grants for UNC faculty, please visit


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