Featured Faculty: Dr. Thao Tran

This month, we are featuring Dr. Thao Tran, assistant professor of chemistry. Tran holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Vietnam National University, earned her Ph.D. at the University of Houston, and completed a postdoctoral visit at the Johns Hopkins University Institute of Quantum Matter. Her current team applies chemical logic and unmatched tunability innate to extended solids to address fundamental challenges in materials science and condensed matter physics. They place their emphasis on three crucial domains:  creating and understanding multifunctional materials, advancing quantum information science, and developing a roadmap for navigating the journey of materials design and development. Tran received a prestigious 2023 Beckman Young Investigators Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation to support her research in quantum technology an NSF Career Award, and has been recognized as a Rising Star in the College of Science.

woman standing in front of machines in a science lab

Why did you pick Clemson to start your independent career?

I love Clemson and the surrounding areas—easy access to beautiful mountains/woods/lakes with awesome hiking and biking trails and a fantastic community.

How do you organize your time to balance teaching/research/service with your personal life?

  • Set priorities: I try to identify my priorities, determine what tasks/projects are most important and in line with my short-term and long-term goals, and focus on those.
  • Allocate my time thoughtfully: I am an early riser, so I allocate my morning for tasks that require deep thinking and concentration. I take care of less demanding tasks at other times during the day. I ensure (or at least try) that make time for self-care activities such as exercise, reading, hobbies, and spending time with my loved ones.
  • Learn to say no: I try to be intentional about my commitments because I do not have infinite time to work/live. Although I often fail to say no to tasks/projects, I am learning to cultivate teamwork effectively and negotiate deadlines when appropriate.
  • Communicate effectively: I try to communicate with my colleagues, students, team members, and family members about my schedule and commitments. That way, they understand my responsibility and availability.

While I am aware of how to align my time with my priorities, I ought to practice it every single day and have room for improvement.

What resources, tools and programs at Clemson facilitate your success as a junior faculty member?

Resources and training workshops provided by the Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation have been a big help for my teaching practices. The Faculty Mentor Training program organized by the Graduate School has provided me with an effective framework for mentoring my students and team members. In addition, I am grateful for the tremendous support from the Office of Research Development (ORD), the Division of Research. The CAREER Academy and other helpful workshops led by Jane Jacobi and the ORD have enabled me to grow and make meaningful progress in my career.

What would you recommend that we implement to further the success of other junior faculty members?

  • Facilitate effective conversations with junior faculty members
  • Listen carefully to what resources and supports they need to advance their careers in all three missions of Clemson: research, student learning, and engagement
  • Be willing to take the necessary steps to support their needs

Want to lean more?