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Award-winning graduate student to launch career after graduation


Graduating PhD student Thao Nguyen wearing a graduation robe and standing in front of a building and trees

School of Molecular Sciences PhD graduating student Thu Thao Nguyen.

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November 29, 2022
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

Thu Thao Nguyen is a graduating with her PhD in chemistry from the School of Molecular Sciences after a journey that began in middle school in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“It was from my first science lesson in my middle school,” Nguyen recalls, “when I realized that everything is made of molecules. I was impressed by the fact that chemistry is related to all the aspects of life. That fact made me become curious about chemistry.”

Her passion for chemistry never wavered as she prepared for graduate school. Nguyen investigated universities and professors, and eventually found Dr. Ryan Trovitch’s research group at ASU’s School of Molecular Sciences. It was a perfect fit. She found her fellow students and professors welcoming and supportive.

“I heard that ASU has a good graduate program and a diversity of culture,” Nguyen continued. “I found that to be true. The professors here are approachable; I feel comfortable discussing research problems with my professors and with my colleagues, which is key to arriving at solutions.”

Nguyen credits her PhD advisor, Ryan Trovitch, for providing advice, knowledge and support, which inspired her creativity and passion for research – both of which were foundational to Nguyen being awarded the 2022 SMS Innovation Award established by William Glaunsinger, who is an emeritus professor and former chair.

For students who are still in school, she offers sage words of advice.

“Managing time and balancing between working and enjoying life are really important. My lab mates and I would go out for coffee once a week and talk about our daily issues and whatever stresses we had. That was a great outlet. Outside of school, make time for a hobby. I love cooking; it helps me relieve stress from work.”

Finding a work-life balance has contributed to Nguyen’s success. Her research has drawn the interest of government and private manufacturing corporations. Following graduation from ASU, she is moving to Pennsylvania where she will launch into her career as a research and development chemist.

Hear Nguyen talk about her research in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov1hHOezI3Y.

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