Ngo Thi Hai Yen was awarded British Council Scholarship for Women in STEM 2022–23. During the period of taking part in a research group at the Department of Pharmaceutics and doing her Bachelor’s thesis at Hanoi University of Pharmacy, she reaIised that doing research would be her future career. She is currently studying the MSc in Natural Products Discovery at Liverpool John Moores University.
Why did you choose to pursue your study in a STEM subject in the UK and what did you find interesting in your course?
I am currently studying an MSc in Natural Products Discovery, which focuses on the techniques and knowledge needed for discovering drug leads from natural origins. I have been enjoying studying here at LJMU. The module of Research Methods not only provided me with important research skills, but also let me understand the key qualities of a good researcher. Other modules have helped me learn about analytical techniques in natural product discovery, natural product chemistry, pharmacology - toxicology, approaches to discover natural products, and natural product formulations. The knowledge from these modules is crucial for my career development.
As a woman pursuing an education in STEM, what are the advantages/disadvantages?
I can see that there are increasing opportunities for girls and women to pursue becoming scientists. The British Council Women in STEM scholarships are an example. Besides, there are also more female Nobel laureates, namely the Chinese chemist Tu Youyou, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for the discovery of artemisinin, an alternative therapy against malaria. This can show that women’s contribution to science seems to be increasingly recognised. However, some challenges can be clearly observed. For example, many families in Viet Nam tend to expect a girl to settle down and get married at the right age so that they can have more time to take care of their family. Also, working in a laboratory with a wide range of chemicals might negatively affect the health of not only a female but also her child. These challenges can require a lot of determination, passion, and family support to overcome.
What are your plans after finishing your studies in the UK?
After finishing my studies in the UK, I would like to become a lecturer and a researcher, especially at Hanoi University of Pharmacy. One of my most important desires during the time I have here at LJMU is that I can experience and study the teaching methods that can help students to learn more happily and easily, which might result in the development of both their academic abilities and character. I hope I can contribute to the quality of the university’s education, and that there will be more research projects that are helpful domestically as well as internationally.