By Ernie Tretkoff
The President of Vietnam is 5th from the left, and Helen Quinn is 6th from the left, in the front row.
Quinn attended the 5th Rencontres du Vietnam, a particle physics and astrophysics meeting in Hanoi. While she was there, she visited with the leadership of the Vietnam Physical Society, and talked about the relationship between the societies.
Some of the conference attendees were invited to meet with the President of Vietnam, Tran Duc Luong. He told the group that he understands the importance of science and is committed to dedicating a portion of his budget for research and development, said Quinn.
Physics in Vietnam is developing, said Quinn, but scientists need better access to information about current research, such as APS journals. "One of the things that becomes clear is it's very difficult for people in countries like Vietnam to know what's available to them," said Quinn. "They're always looking for whatever help they can get. Information is their biggest deficit."
The opportunity to come work or study in the US is also helpful to scientists in developing countries like Vietnam. Quinn said she and the group discussed visa problems of students and researchers who want to study or work in the US. The Vietnamese also expressed the concern that when they send people overseas for training, those people don't often return to Vietnam. Korean and Taiwanese physicists at the meeting said that their countries had been in similar situations recently, but that as their countries' science and technology developed, more scientists began choosing to return home after receiving education abroad.