Information Technology Services (ITS)

IT@UofT People — Do Anh Vu

Published on: July 20, 2021

The backbone of any successful team is its hard-working people. The University of Toronto’s Information Technology Services (ITS) unit is no exception. It is made up of a diverse range of people with an even greater diversity in their interests and talents.

In this segment, entitled “IT@UofT People,” we will get to know our IT@UofT team across the tri-campus community and find out more about their hidden or not-so-hidden talents and/or pursuits outside of work.


Do Anh Vu with his plants

Do Anh Vu, Acting Associate Director of IT, Division of Student Life

Name: Do Anh Vu

Department: Division of Student Life

Title: Acting Associate Director of Information Technology (IT), Division of Student Life

How long have you worked at U of T?
I woke up, and 25 years have passed.

What are your secret or not-so-secret talents and hobbies outside of work?
I have trigger-happy fingers when you put a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera in my hands. I love traveling with a DSLR to capture people and their culture — a tiny capsule of time. I also love walking in the forest and taking pictures of life and the elements that give life — I’ve spent time with the bugs, the cold and even torrential rain to get these shots. I’ve ruined my lenses because of extreme rain and sand, but it was worth it for the photos.

Additionally, since the pandemic caused me to stay indoors for the past year, I was able to focus on another hobby of mine: gardening. I like to spend time watching over my plants at home, and patiently waiting for new flower buds and fruits to bloom. I managed to grow a pineapple earlier this year! It is super gratifying!

How and why did you get involved in these hobbies?
The first time I used a camera was in 1998. I borrowed my father’s Canon SLR for a trip to New York City. I had no idea what I was doing. Although I knew enough to align the two hemispheres for a sharp picture, I used it like a point-and-shoot.

My first personal camera, a Canon SD110 ELPH point-and-shoot, was given to me as a gift. It was super easy to use, and my friends hated the constant flashes in their faces. Eventually, I upgraded to a DSLR to capture all of life’s flitting moments, and I think they hated it even more. Part of photography is linked to my interest in the outdoors — I love documenting my adventures in stills — it’s an art. There is a certain beauty in every image that you take. The art is combined with a science of optics. I find it very interesting.

Gardening evolved out of necessity. Eight years ago, in my tiny condo unit in downtown Toronto, with bricks and concrete walls all around me, I felt my place needed some greenery. It has since become greener and greener. Over the years, I’ve had three green onions, three aloe vera plants, four lucky bamboos, one mint, several basils, three pineapples, three tomatoes, one accidental tomato, two avocadoes, a half-dozen Thai chili pepper plants, some Scotch bonnets and one forever green plastic Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was meant for just one holiday season, but it hasn’t left the flat since. I watch over my plants every day, make sure they’re happy so they can offer me some moments of relaxation in the concrete jungle of Toronto.

Do you have any professional training in this field?
No. Part of the fun is to explore on your own.

Who/what are your inspirations?
In my early days, I was fascinated by how Kristian Bogner ‘painted’ his pictures in the dark and how he planned his shots. I was also drawn to the art and capabilities of cameras by Ken Rockwell — they opened my eyes to the art of light. I think of light differently now. It gives life to my plants and to my memories.