First student wins Global Winner award in chemical sciences

June 02, 2024 - 08:35
Overcoming many contestants around the world, Lê Thùy Linh is the first Vietnamese student to win the Global Winner award in the field of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences at the 2023 Global Undergraduate Awards, a programme that brings together the world's top undergraduate students.
Lê Thùy Linh receives the 2023 Global Winner award at a ceremony held in Ireland. — Photo courtesy of Linh

Overcoming many contestants around the world, Lê Thùy Linh is the first Vietnamese student to win the Global Winner award in the field of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences at the 2023 Global Undergraduate Awards, a programme that brings together the world's top undergraduate students.

She speaks to Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Diệp about the journey of achieving the award and her new goals.

Inner Sanctum: I would like to congratulate you on winning the 2023 Global Winner award. Can you introduce yourself and how did you feel after your win?

I’m Lê Thùy Linh, a fourth-year student majoring in food technology at the International University under Việt Nam National University-HCM City.

The Global Undergraduate Awards is one of the world's leading academic awards programmes to recognise top undergraduate work, share this work with a global audience and connect students across cultures and disciplines.

The awards are judged by a non-profit organisation under the auspices of the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.

The programme has a total of 25 fields and Global Winner is awarded to the leader of each field.

The topic of developing biodegradable smart food wraps combined with betacyanin from red dragon fruit and beetroot led me to win the award as my thesis scored 90/100.

I was very surprised when I received the email from the 2023 Global Undergraduate Awards to inform me that I won the award.

I was touched and felt happy that my efforts in research received recognition.

I’m very proud to be the second Vietnamese student to receive this award since the award's inception in 2012.

I had an opportunity to go to Ireland to receive the award and present my research to international friends.

The award is also a motivation for me to continue striving and constantly making efforts to bring new research topics and useful food products to the community.

Lê Thùy Linh (far right) participates in research in a laboratory at the International University. — Photo courtesy of Linh

Inner Sanctum: Can you tell about the process of selecting the research topic and doing research?

I thought about this topic and shared the idea with my instructor Associate Professor Dr. Lê Ngọc Liễu, a lecturer of the Department of Food Technology.

We discussed coming up with a specific topic name and she offered research direction for me to search for documents related to the topic.

After that, I spent about two months researching, evaluating and writing a proposal to propose experimental methods and research directions based on red dragon fruit and beetroot.

Next, I started to enter the laboratory and spent about four months doing research on these vegetables combined with Chitosan to make a biodegradable smart food wrap.

It was also my instructor who encouraged me to take my topic beyond the scope of a thesis to the Global Winner awards.

Inner Sanctum: What challenges and difficulties did you face when doing research?

Most research students face various challenges and difficulties in research, including selecting a research topic, developing a focus of study, acquiring knowledge from information sources, developing online research skills, and managing time effectively.

Additionally, I encountered problems in data collection, using inferential statistics, and interpreting data.

I also lack expertise, and struggle with finding relevant literature and samples, analysing data, and reporting properly.

Inner Sanctum: What were your expectations about the topic?

Studying the food technology is like destiny for me, because I like to learn recipes, and go to the supermarket to see what new food products are on sale and read the ingredients on their labels.

From there, I thought why not choose to study food technology so I could learn more deeply about food and the process of creating them.

I’m also very concerned about the issue of food hygiene and safety in Việt Nam, which is currently an alarming problem for human health.

The development of this advanced food packaging material is expected to promote sustainable food tech solutions, which aims to address some of humanity's pressing challenges.

This would serve as a better option for packaging in the food industry, minimising the use of chemicals.

Packaging is a major source of trash, and over half of it is plastic.

The smart food package material, when scaled up, could serve as an alternative to cut down on the amount of plastic waste, as it is biodegradable.

Lê Thùy Linh is the first Vietnamese student to receive the Global Winner award in chemical and pharmaceutical sciences. — Photo courtesy of Linh

Inner Sanctum: What are your future plans?

I plan to continue post-graduate study in food technology.

At the same time, I will continue researching the smart food wrap to improve its limitations. For example, I will add some substances to increase the shelf life and waterproofing ability of the wrap.

I'm also interested in vegetarian food and diet and want to try to do research at the post-graduate level.

To become a food product research and development specialist, I will develop more topics and create many products that are both beneficial to human health and protect the environment.

I also want to experience R&D work at corporations specialising in drinks or spices. — VNS