Meet our Biology Mentor: Nga

Nga's Early Passion For Science Leads To A Career In Research

I really enjoyed my high school experience, particularly in relation to science which sparked my passion to pursue a career in research.

From Year 9 onwards, the encouragement from my teachers and mentors inspired me to conduct 3 independent research projects in my spare time. These spanned over a year each and involved conducting experiments both in Australia and in Vietnam. My projects involved me applying principles of Chemistry and Biology that I had learnt from the classroom on a practical basis, to tackle environmental issues that the education system teaches students from an early age.

From Year 9-12, I engineered two different systems to mitigate water pollution. My first system maximised the effectiveness of duckweed, a floating plant, in removing harmful pollutants from water bodies. My second model formed a closed-loop and sustainable cycle, in which I recycled agricultural crop wastes such as a corncob into a multipurpose biochar charcoal. I then optimised this biochar’s capacity in filtering animal wastewater, before reapplying it as a crop fertiliser to provide the agricultural industry an economical method to manage their waste products. Proactively developing my scientific skills by engaging in these independent investigations led me towards so many fantastic opportunities that I am incredibly grateful for.

From Year 10-12 I had the opportunity to travel to America twice to compete at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair, after winning 1st place at the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Fair (Australia’s largest high school science competition). I was also sponsored to represent Australia at the Stockholm International Junior Water Prize. These competitions exposed me to a whole range of new ideas and innovative technologies, whilst also strengthening my communication skills through the rigorous rounds of judging and interviews required for each competition.

Nonetheless, due to the travel required for my co-curricular scientific research and competitions, I missed nearly 2 months of school during my HSC. However, this challenge meant I quickly learnt how to become very disciplined and efficient with my time, to ensure I could achieve my goals both in and out of school. Overall, I found my experience of high school to be positive, and I strongly encourage any students to consistently take that extra step with their learning, for you never know what doors you might open.

Nga's Early Love For Science Leads To A Career In Research

Nga winning the BHP National Science and Engineering Award 2018, presented by CEO Andrew Mackenzie

What are some of your achievements?

After attending Sydney Girls High School, I received an ATAR of 99.80 and began studying a Bachelor of Science and Advanced Studies at the University of Sydney (Sydney Scholar’s Award Scholarship, Dalyell Scholar).

Some of my academic awards include: HSC All Rounders Certificate, HSC High Achiever for all courses undertaken, P&C Prize for 1st in Biology (Year 12 Cohort), Year 11 Rhonda Scalan Award for 1st in English Advanced and Year 11 Biology Merit Award.

Main external science awards and competitions: 1st place for Investigations at the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Competition 2018 (Australia’s largest national science competition for high school students, with over 12,000 entries). Recipient of the $4,000 prize after rigorous judging process and presentations.

Winner of the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2018, and Australia’s chosen representative sponsored to compete in Sweden at the Stockholm International Junior Water Prize, the premier water-research competition for high school students.

I also represented Australia twice overseas in America in 2016 and 2018 at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair. Winning the 4th place Grand Award for Environmental Engineering in 2016.

RELATED: Meet Your 2019/2020 Hurstville Mentors

Where do you see yourself after Talent and university?

After Talent and university, I aim to become an academic within a university, specifically within the field of Environmental Chemistry and Engineering. I hope to work on project grants that focus on mitigating the effects of increased industrial and agricultural activities on water bodies, by developing novel water treatment technologies.

My goal is to take my research to a wide-spread practical level by forming strong cross-cultural partnerships between my university, DFAT, and other NGO’s and research institutions, to extend Australia’s scientific aid overseas to other nations in the Asia-Pacific, such as my mother country of Vietnam.

Nga winning the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2018

What inspired you to teach at Talent 100?

I was inspired to teach at Talent 100 as I understand and have deeply appreciated the value of having a strong support and guidance system as I progressed throughout high school. Thus, I want to contribute to this behind-the-scenes effort to help students achieve their personal best, whether that be through helping them incorporate daily habits to balance their commitments or helping them to take care of their wellbeing during straining times.

What’s something people might not know about you?

Despite by favourite subject being Biology, I am absolutely petrified of the sight of blood!

Do you have any advice for students sitting the HSC this year?

Set fake deadlines earlier than the real deadline. For example, if an essay was due on August 25th, I would make myself finish my final draft (ready to hand in), but August 18th. The same goes with note-taking and so on. This meant that throughout my HSC, I could submit my work and assessments in early before I travelled to complete. I even took some of my trial exams a week early without compromising my performance and marks, as by doing things as soon as possible I had already had ample time to consolidate my knowledge, or perfect my work. This method of approaching my work gave me a strong sense of security and peace of mind, which is important amidst the HSC.

Sleep, sleep, sleep! It is so essential in allowing information to be retained in your brain, and will allow you to concentrate so much better the next day.

Teaching is the best form of learning – teach your friends, your dog, your little sister, and basically anyone who will listen. This is such a great method for you to identify the gaps in your understanding, so you can target them in greater depth in your individual study.

Are you interested in taking your studies to the next level with Nga and our other fantastic Mentors across our Hurstville, Chatswood, Epping, Burwood and CBD Learning Centres?

Click here to find out how you can learn from the brightest minds and start your academic journey at Talent 100.

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