Associate Professor Ho Thi Thanh Van (C) at the awards ceremony
The jury of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations and the L’Oréal Foundation have recently presented the L’Oréal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Award in 2022 to scientist Ho Thi Thanh Van of the HCMC University of Natural Resources and Environment.
The awards ceremony of the prestigious award within the framework of the program ‘For the development of women in science’, initiated by the L'Oréal Foundation and UNESCO took place at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.
Associate Professor Ho Thi Thanh Van, Head of the Department of Science, Technology and External Relations at the University of Natural Resources and Environment in Ho Chi Minh City, is one of 15 female researchers selected from 250 young talent profiles from national and regional programs for the development of women in science worldwide.
The Vietnamese female scientist was awarded for her work on hydrogen fuel cell technology an area of focus for - the future of clean energy. The research helps to optimize fuel cell operation to improve efficiency, enable sustainable hydrogen energy production, limit fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.
Since 2015, only three Vietnamese female scientists including Assoc. Prof. Ho Thi Thanh Van have been so far awarded the above award. Ambassador Le Thi Hong Van, Chief Representative of the Vietnamese Delegation to UNESCO, said that Assoc. Prof. Ho Thi Thanh Van’s award is the pride of Vietnam in general and Vietnamese scientists in particular. Assoc. Prof. Ho Thi Thanh Van revealed she had national pride when receiving the prize in Paris with outstanding scientists in the world.
Assoc. Prof. Thanh Van recalled the period from 2010-2011 when choosing a research topic, professors disagreed because they were worried because the topic was too new and risky. But at that time, she only had thought no matter what the results, she would learn many things. Then, she worked hard for six months in the lab, only sleeping 1-2 hours a night. Six months later, the results were beyond expectations. This is a huge stepping stone for taking her doctoral degree later.
She also registered a US patent for her research work.
Assoc. Prof. Ho Thi Thanh Van was born in 1980. In 1998, she was selected for the University of Technology of the National University of Ho Chi Minh City without sitting for an examination. After graduating from school, she was becoming a teaching staff in the school’s Inorganic Chemistry.
After obtaining a master's degree in 2006, Thanh Van received a full doctoral scholarship from the Taiwan University of Science and Technology and excellently received her Ph.D. before in only three-year learning when she published a US patent and a Taiwan patent in the field of new energy, three international articles in the prestigious ISI category.
After getting her doctorate, she was invited to work for 2 years and succeeded with big projects on batteries and solar energy. After two years, she was invited to work for another two years, but she decided to return to Vietnam because of her desire to transfer her knowledge to young people and contribute to the development of the country.
She was appointed to be the Head of the Science, Technology and External Relations Department at Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Resources and Environment. She taught students renewable energy and carried out research on this at the same time, the pressure and difficulties surrounding her, sometimes she felt impossible to continue.
She remembered returning to the country in 2013, her salary was about VND6.5 million a month, but she spent nearly VND5 million buying two grams of chemicals for her research. The measurement and analysis stages needed modern machinery; thus she had to fly to an old laboratory abroad or send samples for measurement in Korea and Canada at a rather high cost.
At that time, there was no project or topic and no financial support. She had sleepless nights wondering whether she should continue because her research was too new and needed modern technology and equipment that Vietnam didn’t have at that time.
Now, after more than 15 years, Assoc. Prof. Ho Thi Thanh Van’s research topic is still more and more necessary for life, contributing to solving global problems including climate change and energy security. Looking back, I see that my choice returning home to continue researching this topic was the right one. I am satisfied and happy with my choice, said Associate Professor Thanh Van.
Sharing about her future plans, especially after going to France to receive the World Talented Young Female Scientist Award 2022, Assoc. Prof Ho Thi Thanh Van disclosed that in the immediate future, she would try to put it into wide application in practice in Vietnam in particular and the world in general.