Uyen Thy Nguyen is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research encompasses the human skin microbiome and its specialized metabolites. Nguyen is interested in examining the ecological functions of these metabolites with the goal of discovering novel antibiotics and antifungal drugs from the human skin.
What was one of the low points or challenges in your scientific journey, and what helped you? What advice do you have for others?
One of the low points during my scientific journey was after passing my preliminary exam. This was the time when I had to execute my thesis proposal. I really felt the imposter syndrome feeling and asking myself “can I really do this?” I am going into my 4th year of graduate school this year and I am realizing that as long as I am accepting that it is a difficult journey and I am willing to learn, it made me feel more comfortable and confident in that I am able to learn. One thing that helped me the most during this was talking to my peers and senior scientists, asking them for advice and help in regards to my project and overall academic journey.
What is something about science or your current work that you find fascinating or motivating?
My current work focuses on the human skin microbiome and the specialized metabolites that are mediating microbial interactions. The broader goal of my research is to find new drugs from these specialized metabolites. I find it fascinating that the microorganisms that live on our skin have so many unique functions that have yet to be discovered. I am motivated to decipher some of their ecological functions and hope that this can lead us to more microbiome therapeutics for skin conditions like eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, and even chronic wounds.