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About Tâm

Tâm (they/she/chanh) is a gen 1.5 immigrant who came from Việt Nam at the age of 15 to Saint John - a small city in New Brunswick facing the Atlantic Ocean. From a young age, Tâm has developed a special interest in Science since high school. However, as an AuDHD person, they also have many short-term interests so it has never been clear to them until the beginning of undergrad year 4.

They started out as a Biological Lab member and an honourary Computational Lab member at the international Genetic Engineering Machinery team Toronto (iGEM Toronto) in developing cell-free paper-based Gold ions metalloprotein biosensor system. This has led to their research interest in metalloproteins to work as an Honours student under supervision of the late Dr. Deborah Zamble at the University of Toronto, the first mentor to spark their interest in research and science communication. Their Honours work was to characterize a transcriptional activator Ni(II)-binding metalloprotein called NikR using    F-NMR.

In 2018, Tâm came back to the Maritimes for mental health and family reasons but also to heal from their own compounded experience with ableism from academia. In 2019, they started as a M.Sc candidate under supervision of Dr. Jan K. Rainey at Dalhousie University in using   F-NMR to characterize the apelin isoforms interaction with membrane/membrane mimetics and receptors in on-cell NMR settings. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted their research directions; however, with resourcefulness and perseverance, they pushed through the hardships and made their transfer to Ph.D candidacy which has now made them the first in their family to pursue a Ph.D and the first non-binary person in their department to pursue a Ph.D. Currently, they are now in their Ph.D 5th year wrapping up their thesis in developing and using biophysical techniques, including  F-NMR, and computational studies to characterize apelin isoforms interaction to membrane mimetics and receptors.

Outside of research work, they are passionate in Inclusion-Diversity-Equity-Accessibility (IDEA) in STEM for historically excluded communities. As a disabled nonbinary woman of Colour in STEM, they recognized the STEM accessibility challenges for these communities. This had led them to develop a passion in science communication to make STEM more accessible for the general public, specifically for these communities. Through science communication, they hope to advocate for the IDEA advancement of these communities in STEM and IDEA research that can directly impact them. 

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Education

2019 - Now

Dalhousie University

Ph.D Candidate

Ph.D Candidate at Rainey Lab, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

2013 - 2018

University of Toronto

Honours B.Sc with Distinction

Honours thesis at Zamble Lab, Department of Chemistry & Department of Biochemistry

Awards, Scholarships and Grants

Research-related:​

  • 2022 Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students Travel Grant

  • Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences 2022 Travel Award 

  • 2022 Faculty of Graduate Studies Travel Award

  • Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine 2021 Graduate Studentship

  • 2021 - 2024 Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship - Doctoral Level

  • 2021 Ben Barres Fellowship Recipient

Community-related:

  • 2022 TD Proud of Our Pride Funding Program

  • 2020 Halifax Community Funding

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