Outstanding Seniors in the College of Science: Evy Nguyen

Dec. 15, 2022
Evy Nguyen

This fall, departments in the University of Arizona's College of Science nominated an outstanding senior who went above and beyond during their time as a Wildcat. We are pleased to share their stories as they reflect on their time at UArizona. Last in the senior spotlight series is Evy Nguyen, who was also named the College of Science overall outstanding senior.

Evy Nguyen
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

College of Science: Why did you choose your area of study?
Nguyen: I first majored in Microbiology and joined Dr. Barry Pryor's mycology lab as a freshman. During my first research project in which we were optimizing PCR-based diagnostic tools for a fungal pathogen of lettuce, I came across a problem that required some in-depth statistical analysis. As I was looking around and teaching myself how to employ biostatistical tools to further my research, I realized how far I could go and how much science I could do if I knew how to work bioinformatic pipelines. So the very next semester, I declared Bioinformatics as my second major. Ever since I've constantly applied what I learned in class to my own research projects and it was amazing to see and experience first-hand what it means to be interdisciplinary science.

COS: Tell us about a class or research project you really enjoyed
Nguyen: Over the 4.5 years of my undergrad, I have been involved in a total of six projects. Perhaps the most challenging and rewarding one so far is a systematic study I'm currently leading. Arizona is the hub for lettuce production in the Southwest US and there is this fungus that infects and causes severe crop and economic losses, both in the US and worldwide. This year, our lab received lettuce samples from fields in Arizona then we isolated over 100 strains of FOL, tested their pathogenicity in the greenhouse, and extracted their DNA. The goal is to run a systematic study of FOL genetic and pathogenic diversity within each field as well as regionally, using sequenced data of specific loci and virulence data. I enjoy this project a lot because it's one of those projects where I can heavily implement my knowledge and training from my Bioinformatics major. A lot of it involves self-teaching and emailing my professors, asking them for advice but it has been incredibly fun and I truly hope our lab's contribution to the field could help lettuce producers out there.

COS: What is one specific memory from your time at UA that you'll cherish forever?
Nguyen: A memory that I'll cherish forever from my time at UA is when my friends and I went to my first UA hockey game! It was very cold and we were packed like sardines as we all rode the sun link downtown to the stadium. It was really fun because hockey is such a fun sport to watch and our school spirit was in the air as we all cheered for the UA hockey team. It was a lovely memory for me, packed with the valuable bonds of friendship I have formed at the UA.

COS: What is next for you after graduation?
Nguyen: Right now, I'm applying for the Arizona Biological & Biological Sciences (ABBS) Doctoral Program at the UA. My goal is to earn a Ph.D. and study what I'm passionate about, which is host-pathogen interactions and coevolution. While awaiting the admission decision, I will be working as a Research Technician at Dr. David Baltrus' lab studying evolution-driven bacterial interactions to further my skills and knowledge in the field of Genetics