COSS PhD Scholarship: Strengthening drought resilience through a big data-based drought prediction system for the Mekong delta region of Vietnam

University of Glasgow

Glasgow, , GB

Project details

In the Mekong river basin, drought has been a prevalent concern for farmers over the last decades, especially for the Mekong Delta Region (MDR) that is the most productive region in terms of agriculture and aquaculture in Viet Nam. In this tidal delta, low river water levels during droughts allow seawater to intrude inland, ruining vast swathes of cropland and generating considerable damage to the entire ecosystem and the livelihoods of communities. Therefore, improving drought prediction in the MDR is vital to support increased preparedness and resilience to droughts and to inform decision-makers on optimal drought management and mitigation strategies.

Droughts can be monitored effectively using climatic drought indices. But there is limited capability to use these indices due to sparse observation networks in the MDR. With the advent of advanced remote sensing techniques, a range of Big Data sources have been recognized as useful tools for large-scale area monitoring. In the PhD project, a Big Data-based Drought Prediction System will be developed that relies on satellite data to force multiple land surface models. The proposed prediction system will be used by the Vietnamese government, local authorities, businesses and local communities, which would contribute to various sustainable development goals and targets and in particular societal well-being, environmental sustainability, and economic growth in Viet Nam.

The project will be co-supervised by Dr John Xiaogang Shi and Professor Fabrice Renaud. Dr Shi’s research work has been focused on the analysis and modeling of hydrometeorological hazards (e.g. floods and droughts) and hydrological forecasting in the context of climate and environmental change by using satellite data sources, reanalysis products and in situ observations, as well as model outputs. He has developed a new agricultural drought index, which can provide soil moisture and other hydrologic variables using observation-forced model simulations of the terrestrial hydrologic cycle. Professor Renaud has extensive experience in environmental risk and community resilience and will supervise drought risk assessment and drought resilience. He has been working in Viet Nam and in the Mekong delta in particular continuously since 2006. The supervisory team will provide the successful candidate with high quality scientific training.  

About the School/Research Group

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Glasgow’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies in Dumfries, Scotland. This rural campus in south Scotland is home to a multidisciplinary team of lecturers and researchers. The PhD research will be carried out within the Environmental Science and Sustainability Group.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria

  • First-class or 2.1 Bachelor’s degree, or Master’s degree (or overseas equivalent), preferably with a background of hydrology, atmospheric science, engineering or environmental science.
  • Demonstrate an interest in hydrologic modelling and/or remote sensing. Proficiency with appropriate modelling tools is essential.
  • Have strong numerical and analytical skills, and/or relevant programming experience.

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 (3 year PhD) only. The programme will commence in October 2021. The CoSS PhD Scholarship package includes:

  • An annual maintenance grant (stipend) indexed to the RCUK rate
  • Fee waiver at the standard Home or International rate
  • Recipients can also draw on a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

How to apply

All applicants should complete and collate the following documentation, and then attach to a single email and send to [email protected] with the subject line ‘CoSS PhD Scholarship – Strengthening drought resilience through a Big Data-based drought prediction system for the Mekong Delta Region in Viet Nam

  • College of Social Sciences funding application cover sheet
  • CoSS PhD Funding Application Form
  • Academic transcript(s): for all completed or soon to be completed higher/tertiary education (for currently enrolled degrees, this should show enrolment and any grades obtained to date) and an accredited translation if not in English – scanned copy in colour of the original document/s
  • Degree Certificate(s) for all completed higher/tertiary education and an accredited translation if not in English – scanned copy in colour of the original document/s
  • References: 2 references on letterheaded documents – one must be academic the other can be academic or professional. if required, these can be sent from your referees directly to [email protected], with your full name and the scholarship you are applying for as the subject
  • Curiculum Vitae (CV)

Applicants lodge their application via email: [email protected]

Closing Date: 30 April 2021

Selection process

Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and shortlisted applicants may be asked to attend a remote interview.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Contact details

Dr John Xiaogang Shi ([email protected])





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development