ICIMOD Mountain chair 2017-2019

Dr Phanchung

Director General of the Department of Research and External Relations, Royal University of Bhutan

Born in a rural hamlet to a farming family, Dr Phanchung completed his primary education in his home village of  Yurung. He moved to Southwest Bhutan in the mid-1970s and completed his secondary education in 1980, graduating from Samtse Central School. He was the first Eastern Bhutanese—an ethnic minority—to enroll in the school, where students were predominantly of Southern Bhutanese origin.

He received his pre-university degree from Sherubtse College, Bhutan, and was later selected to pursue a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from the Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University in Hyderabad, India. He began his career in January 1989 as Veterinary Officer and later concurrently as the Principal of the Royal Veterinary Institute, Serbithang, Bhutan.

Meanwhile, the Royal Government of Bhutan initiated a decentralized form of Government by grouping Bhutan into four Zonal Administrations. Social service sectors like Education, Health Engineering and rural development sectors like Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Irrigation and Forestry were decentralized to the Zonal Administration. Phanchung was appointed the Zonal Animal Husbandry Officer of Zone IV, Yonphula. Later, he served as the Regional Veterinary Officer of the Eastern Region at Dewathang and moved to the Head Office in Thimphu as the Animal Health Officer of the Department of Animal Husbandry.

In early 1990s, the Ministry of Agriculture restructured its organization and one of the outcomes was the establishment of an integrated training institute at Lobesa.


Phanchung served in different capacities as the Assistant Professor, Dean of Academic Affairs, Principal, and Head of Department at the College of Natural Resources for 18 years. Phanchung received his PhD in Animal Nutrition from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and an MSc in Animal Production from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

He took over as the Director General of the Department of Research and External Relations, Bhutan in August 2015. Prior to that, he worked as the Manager of the Programmes, Teaching and Learning under the Department of Academic Affairs, Bhutan. Phanchung is Secretary of the Research and Innovation Committee (RIC) and the Research Degree Committee (RDC), Member of the Academic Board, Programmes Quality Committee, Academic Planning and Resource Committee, University Human Resource Committee, University Academic Staff Selection Committee, University Promotion Committee of Professorial Positions, and several committees of the Royal University of Bhutan.

Phanchung is also the Managing Editor of the Bhutan Journal of Research and Development. He is a member of the Climate Change Coordination Committee of Bhutan appointed by Bhutanese the Prime Minister. He also acts as the External Evaluator of the BSc Degree Thesis of the College of Natural
Resources and External Reviewer of the Bhutan Journal of Natural Resources and Development. He is the Director of the National Research Fund, Bhutan.

Contact Details:
E-mail: phanchung.ovc@rub.edu.bt
Telephone: +975 2 336455


Of the several achievements Phanchung has accomplished as ICIMOD Mountain Chair, the following are some significant contributions:

  • Helped strengthen inter-university research and academic cooperation among HUC members through Partnership Day organized by ICIMOD and the Royal Government of Bhutan in Thimphu in May 2018.


  • Facilitated the Expert Working Group on “Higher education, PhD programme, capacity development and training” at an international workshop organized by United Nations University in Germany and EURAC in Italy.
  • Presented a paper to the International Mountain Conference (IMC) 2019 in Innsbruck, Austria, on the transboundary educational programme on sustainable mountain development in the HKH region.


  • Paid an institutional visit to Yezin Agricultural University, Myanmar, and gave a seminar on Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness philosophy as a paradigm for sustainable mountain development.