Career ingredient: education
Kelly’s path leading up to this success story was long, and it asked a lot of her. It all began with a gold medal at the 2003 South Vietnam Math Olympics. To her, this was a signal for departure. A year later, the world beckoned, and at the young age of 16, Thi Hoang Duong Nguyen heeded the call. Alone. Her family, her parents and her two sisters live in Vietnam to this day. Kelly, the name she uses abroad, received an opportunity to attend High School in New Zealand. A foreign environment with a foreign language. “This was where I learned to adapt to new environments quickly and maintain a positive attitude even if things are difficult.”
A time-lapse summary of her career: at the age of 18, she entered the Australian National University in Canberra, and at 22 she began her doctoral work at the University of Cambridge. She was 28 when she moved to the US to conduct research and 31 when she returned to Cambridge in 2019 to start her own group which currently comprises five laboratory members. What had made the deepest impression on her throughout these years? Above all, “it was my parents’ strong work ethic”, and the high value they place on education. It was these values that carried her around the world and that allowed her to pursue a career that she loves.
By now, the researcher, who describes herself as being curious, organized, thorough and systematic, has a number of prestigious awards to show for herself – for example, she recently received the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators 2022, worth 20,000 euros. While the “cheerful pessimist” is not afraid of new challenges, she is occasionally prone to self-doubt. “I don’t start out expecting a good result – regardless of how it turns out, I am a happy person.”