Vy Tat

Vy Tat ’21, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Majors: ACS Chemistry and Mathematics

Please tell us about your research.

The title of my research project is “How Does the Electric Field of an Ion Decay with Distance?” I had the opportunity to join Dr. Jahan Dawlaty’s lab at the University of Southern California this past summer and help run the project. I learned about this opportunity from Dr. Darin Ulness, one of my chemistry professors at Concordia.

Why is this research important to you?

This was a great opportunity for me to work with both graduate and postdoc students. I learned so much from them; hearing about their personal experiences in graduate school was especially enlightening. I felt a personal connection to the research itself because it fell into the field of physical chemistry, which is my favorite area to study. Physical chemistry, which includes electric field influence chemistry, is applied in many areas, such as solar cells, and in speeding up reactions.

What was the primary challenge you faced and how did you find a solution?

The main challenge was synthesizing new materials. The lab I worked in was a physical chemistry lab, which is not as conducive for synthesizing compared to organic chemistry labs; however, we tried our best. Synthesizing is never easy, let alone synthesizing new chemicals. We did not have all the information about the materials that we were using; so, as a lab we had to sit down and brainstorm possible solutions and alternative options. It ended up being a lot of trial and error.

Vy Tat doing research

What are your biggest takeaways from this project?

I had the opportunity to get my hands “dirty,” meaning I had plenty of experiences to improve my hand-on skills while working in the lab. Working with Dr. Dawlaty’s research group was an amazing opportunity, in large part because I was able to work with graduate and postdoc students who are doing what I hope to do one day. It was incredibly motivating.

What are you involved in outside of academics?

I love organizing community building activities for people in my on-campus apartment building, Bogstad Manor. I enjoy brainstorming different activities each month, both passive and active, for the community of Cobbers who live in our building.

What has made you feel at home at Concordia College?

The first two people I met at Concordia were my Prelude resident assistants (RAs), Abigail Roberts ’19 and Prashansha Maharjan ’20. They both immediately struck me as being so friendly and then Abigail ended up being my RA during the academic year. Our friendship grew to the point where I started calling her “mom.” She helped me with both studying and my living situation. In my second and third year, I became a “cool sister” for my floor and building like Abigail did.

In what ways has Concordia allowed you to grow?

It’s fun to see that I’m growing in many areas – academics, social life, communication, etc. The Residence Life Office gave me a chance to be a resident assistant and a building manager, from which I’ve gained a lot of problem-solving and team-building skills. And as I mentioned previously, I’ve also learned about research opportunities from my chemistry professor, Dr. Darin Ulness.

Vy Tat

What’s next for you?

I would love to attend graduate school to continue studying chemistry.

Do you have any advice specifically for international students? 

Although international students might seemingly have less opportunities to participate in summer research and internships compared to U.S. citizens, this does not need to prevent anyone from specific careers. Concordia’s Office of URSCA (Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity) helps all students in obtaining research experiences, regardless if you’re a U.S. citizen.