Meet Dr Tien Huynh – Nature lover, university lecturer and STEM Superstar!
Dr Tien Huynh is a lecturer at RMIT in Melbourne. She specialises in medical and plant sciences.
Dr Huynh was recently selected to be part of the Superstars of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).
This is a group of 30 women who are being recognised for their exceptional contributions within their field and who are championing participation by women in STEM disciplines.
Dr Huynh was kind enough to give some of her time to answer some questions about her interest in science and her career to date.
What work do you do and why do you love it?
I am a science lecturer and researcher at university. I love plants, the environment and science.
Why? Plants provide us with so many amazing things that we need every day like the air that we breath, the food that we eat to give us energy, the clothes that we wear to keep us warm and the medicine that we take to make us better etc.
The environment is where we live and our home. We have only one earth and we need to care for it so that it can continue to be our home forever. Science provides the answers to our questions and allows for us to make fantastic discoveries that we all benefit from.
How old were you when you first developed an interest in STEM related activities?
I loved plants and science when I was a little girl. My mum would often find me in the garden smelling flowers and playing with the insects. Even as a 3 year-old-child, I would ask science questions that had my mum perplexed like: “Why does the sun shine like it does?”
Was there something particular, that drew your interest?
My love for plants and the environment started after I saw a rose from the florist that was more beautiful and more fragrant than anything else I knew.
Can you describe a typical day in your work?
Every day is different for me.
It is always busy and there is never a dull or boring day or week. Some days I am in the lab running really cool experiments. Other days I am in lecture rooms teaching students who want to learn more about the wonderful world of science.
On really great days, I am out in the field smelling flowers, eating medicinal plants and working with the farmers that work hard to provide us with plants that play such an important part in our lives.
Every day, I know that I make a difference to those around me and that is such a privilege.
What is the best part of your job?
I meet and work with amazing people in my job. Some of the other scientists are truly geniuses and I am so humbled in their presence. They contribute so much to the world and make it an amazing place to live in.
What are your goals for your future work?
My goal is to make the world a better place through science. I want to see that important plants are preserved so that they continue to exist for future generations to use. I want to find more plants that have medicinal benefits and enrich our lives with quality foods. I want to see the planet thriving and clean from waste and toxins. I want to see more scientists contributing to the world no matter who you are or where you come from.
Do you have advice for children who are interested in a career in your field?
Follow your heart and make your dreams come true. Ask lots of questions and find a mentor who believes in your dreams and can give you guidance. Work hard, live with passion and make every moment count.
It is clear that Dr Huynh is passionate about her job!
I found two elements from her answers particularly interesting.
The first was that work in a STEM field can offer an extremely varied workplace that takes you into a lab, out in the field and into a classroom to inspire others. This is an increasingly rare characteristic in workplaces and certainly a very attractive one.
The other observation I made from Dr Huynh’s answers is that experiences from childhood, that we as parents may consider insignificant can have a profound and ongoing influence on our children and the interests that they follow in life.
It has reminded me that it is important to provide a broad range of experiences for my kids and that I should not continually hurry them from one activity to the next. For Dr Huynh, literally being allowed to stop and smell the roses has led to a phenomenal and productive career making the world a better place through science.
What everyday encounters have your children talked about long after you thought that they would be forgotten?