2021 Mekong - U.S. Partnership Young Scientist Program


Through the Mekong - U.S. Partnership Young Scientist Program, the United States and the Mekong - U.S. Partnership countries promote equitable, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth through education, science, and the environment. The Mekong - U.S. Partnership Young Scientist program supports the region’s young scientists as they develop solutions to transboundary challenges along the Mekong River. Launched in 2018 by implementing partner Arizona State University (ASU), the objective of the Mekong - U.S. Partnership Young Scientist Program is to create a research community of practice annually targeting up to 34 young researchers across Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, to develop capacity for joint research projects through workshops, networking events, and an annual scientific symposium to encourage the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experiences, including authorship of peer-reviewed research papers.

The theme for the 2021 program (year 3 of 3) is Agricultural Technology and Innovation. This virtual incubator-style program will explore and identify opportunities embedded in the agricultural value chain using design thinking to identify inefficiencies in the chain and lean startup to find a scalable and repeatable business model.  This disciplined approach to entrepreneurship is rigorous, evidence-based, and action-oriented. Your mission is to find a scalable and repeatable business model which can fully exploit the value of the opportunities identified from your exploration of the agricultural value chain. You will hypothesize a technology-based solution, develop a value proposition, embed it in a business model and use the scientific method to test your core hypotheses. Potential technologies include drones, robots, AI, Sensors, and blockchain technologies.

Through classwork, guest lectures from experts, and roundtable discussions, participants will actively learn how to identify Agri-business opportunities, interact with potential customers, and develop sustainable and environmentally sound ventures. The coursework will be delivered by subject matter experts, trade professionals, industry leaders, and practitioners. The virtual incubator will culminate with a Demo Day competition where attendees will present investor pitches documenting their understanding of the Agri-business opportunity, their proposed solutions, and the funding required to advance the development of their Agri-tech innovation. Cash awards will be given to the top three teams.

This incubator-style virtual program is scheduled for October 11 - December 17, 2021. The program will recruit approx. 50 current students or recent graduates from Master’s or Ph.D. programs in technology fields with applications in the agricultural sector. The program will conclude with a Demo Day style competition in which you will present an investor pitch and vie for up to $15,000 USD in seed funding.  


Who is eligible to apply?


The program will focus on recruiting current students and recent graduates from master’s and Ph.D. programs in the five countries, with backgrounds in: 

  • Agricultural Systems Analysis
  • Agricultural Environments
  • Farm Production Engineering
  • Crop Ecophysiology and Modeling
  • Human Factors Engineering
  • Design and Testing of Agricultural Equipment
  • Crop Productivity Management
  • Livestock Productivity Management
  • Agricultural Systems
  • Farm Management Economics
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Agricultural Soil Mechanics
  • Instrumentation and Measurement Techniques
  • Aquacultural Engineering
  • Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Integrated Pest management
  • Agricultural Watershed System
  • Agricultural Sector and Policy Analysis


The program will also welcome those already working in the agri-tech industries who are seeking to develop technical, enterprise, and entrepreneurship skills. Therefore, applicants without a graduate degree in the specified fields, but with relevant professional qualifications and/or more extensive work experience, may also be considered.


Eligibility Requirements


  • Between the ages of 25 - 35 at the time of application, although exceptional applicants under the age of 25 or over the age of 35 can be considered if they meet all other eligibility requirements;
  • Must be enrolled in a graduate program or be a recent graduate of a Master’s or PhD degree in the relevant area of study 
  • A citizen of one of the following Mekong - U.S. Partnership countries: Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. 
  • Proficient in spoken and written English
  • Reliable internet access
  • Must be able to fully participate in the virtual program without interruption. This includes weekly, live Zoom sessions
  • Applicants without a graduate degree in the specified fields, but with relevant professional qualifications and/or more extensive work experience may also be considered


Selection Criteria


  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities and track record in their university, place of work, and/or community; 
  • Demonstrate technical knowledge and professional experience related to the thematic area for the program
  • Be willing to actively participate in an intensive academic program
  • Have a commitment to apply research skills and training to benefit their community, country, or the Mekong - U.S. Partnership region.


Application Requirements


  • Fill out the online application form
  • Upload an updated resume
  • Submit a statement of purpose that describes your goals and why you want to join this program
  • Deadline for applications is September 30, 2021


Application Form

In 500 words or less, please write a statement that describes your research goals and why you want to join this program.
Files must be less than 5 MB.
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