Grad Spotlight: Ngoc Pham Thien Thao

Ngoc Pham Thien Thao, a senior biochemistry major who will graduate this week
Monday, May 3, 2021

Grad Spotlight: Ngoc Pham Thien Thao

This is a continuation of our "IANR is Global" series, which highlights the many ways internationalization is woven through the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: through research collaboration, government and private industry partnerships, extension work, student educational experiences and the IANR community from around the world.

This edition is specifically focused on the many diverse individuals with experience from around the world who are graduating this year. Ngoc Pham Thien Thao is a senior biochemistry major who will graduate this week. We appreciate the community we are fortunate to have from all over the world, as shown by their many and varied contributions to the work of the university and our continued mission to create a globally engaged institution. To this end, we want to help our campus community get to know each other (and the world) more, starting with these individuals. 

Where is your hometown? Where did you receive your education?

I am from Saigon, Vietnam and I received my education there up to grade 10 (the first year in Vietnam’s high school). Then, I came to the US, I finished high school here in Nebraska and went to UNL.

 Tell us a little about the path to where you are now? How did you land in Nebraska specifically?

I attended most earlier levels in Vietnam before I came to the US. During 8th and 9th grades, I was in the chemistry team of my secondary school to compete with other schools in the city. That might somehow explained for why I chose biochemistry as my major in university. I am currently a senior majoring in biochemistry, minoring in plant biology and chemistry.

I didn’t know that I’ve had relatives living in Lincoln, before. They shared with my parents about schools here. My parents asked me if I would liked to go here for studying abroad, and I said YES.

What is something people don’t know (or that you wish they knew) about where you’re from or where you live now?

Being in Nebraska for awhile, I have heard my friends said it was a bit boring. Personally, I don’t think so. I think they have not find all interesting places yet. In Lincoln, I love going to Oak Creek Plant and Flowers, to the Mill and try all tea flavors there, to A Novel idea to pet cats there, etc. 

What are your plans after more immediately after your graduation? 

I am planning to work temporarily. During that time, I will hopefully apply to graduate programs in phytochemistry/pharmacognosy.

What are some of your biggest career dreams/aspirations for the future?

Vietnam and other tropical countries have been blessed with plenty plants including medicinal plants. When I was young, I learned about the roles of herbs and vegetables not only in our traditional dishes, but also in some traditional treatments. From one of previous course I took, some compounds are beneficial, but some are opposite; so, I would love to learn more about that.

What is one piece of advice you would share with your fellow students?

Sometimes, we intentionally or unintentionally compare ourselves to other people, and we feel we are not enough, or we have done nothing so far. These are times that we should look back at every single moment you have experienced. They all matter, and please use them as motivation to get some more experience into your “collection."

Are you or someone you know graduating in 2021 (or the future) and have an international element to your work, studies or experiences you'd like to see highlighted? Contact Brianne at