Thursday, June 30, 2022

His love of the award-winning plant research science blossoms. Chapman Newsroom

Kevin Nguyen ’24 was planting alfalfa in the biology lab at Chapman University when he learned he had received a prestigious Goldwater scholarship. As his seedlings absorbed moisture from the soil, Nguyen allowed his achievement to sink in.

“Yes I did it!” He remembers saying this to himself while reading the email with the Goldwater Foundation’s good news.

Nguyen had every reason to soar, even if only her little plants were adding to her sudden celebration.

Increase plant productivity and crop yield

Kevin Nguyen’s agronomy research explores the symbiotic relationship between alfalfa plants and soil bacteria called rhizobia.

Nguyen’s agronomy research explores the symbiotic relationship between alfalfa plants and soil bacteria called rhizobia.

“We’re trying to optimize that relationship so that we can have better plant productivity,” he says. “An experiment is trying to find out if there is a particular time of day when that symbiotic relationship peaks. And right now I’m working to see if carbon monoxide has any effect on bonding. , because some researchers have observed that small amounts of carbon monoxide can cause the plant to form secondary roots.

Ultimately, Nguyen hopes to improve food yields and, consequently, increase global food security, particularly in developing countries. And immediately, he hopes to dive deeper into his project during Chapman’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.

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“I enjoy thinking about the best way to execute an experiment, and I always get excited when I think about the purpose of my project,” he says. “The objective usually has a real-world application. Thinking about how the results might help the world makes me eager to get started.”

Partnership with Orange High and the Ronald M. Simon Foundation

Kevin Nguyen
“I saw myself as a researcher in training, so being recognized nationally as a researcher is a good revelation,” Nguyen says.

Nguyen’s Chapman experience began when he was a student at nearby Orange High School. There, he was selected for the Simon STEM Scholars Program, which earned him the Chapman Assistant Professor Hagop Atomian, Ph.D. Introduced to scientific research in K.’s laboratory, who has been Nguyen’s mentor since then.

Nguyen, a first-generation college student from a low-income background, Ronald M. Thanks to the generous support of the Simon STEM Scholars Program by the Simon Foundation, Chapman attends on a full scholarship.

“We are thrilled to hear that one of our Simon Scholars will receive a Goldwater Scholarship,” says Chapman University Trustee Ronald M. Simon.

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“This is a sign that Orange High School, the partnership between Chapman and the Ronald M. Simon Foundation, is succeeding in its mission of encouraging disadvantaged students to pursue much-needed STEM careers,” says Simon. “Without this program, Kevin would not have pursued this degree, and he is now being recognized as an emerging national leader in scientific research. Nothing can make us happy. We believe he excels.” Will continue to do so and reach a high level of success. Well done, Kevin!”

Nguyen says that his early lab experience at Chapman, while he was still a student at Orange High, opened his eyes that research “can be an entirely rewarding experience in college,” he says.

“I used to go after Chapman without knowing anything about it, except that the greatness is there,” explains Nguyen. “The Simon STEM Scholars Program allowed me to taste awesome. I’ve always had a knack for STEM, but now it’s so much more than that. Now I love it.”

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