Researcher Spotlight - Thi Xuan Nguyen

Published: 25 February 2020

This week, Elle has put Thi Xuan Nguyen under the spotlight. Xuan is a joint PhD student of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan and University of Glasgow.

This week, Elle has put Thi Xuan Nguyen under the spotlight. Xuan, MSc, is a joint PhD student of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan and University of Glasgow

A picture of Thi Xuan NguyenTell us about your background
I graduated from Hanoi University of Agriculture in 2009 with a BSc in Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. After graduation, I worked as a lecturer and researcher at Vietnam National University of Agriculture (VNUA). In 2015, obtained my MSc in Animal Sciences from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Over recent years, I have performed several studies regarding the nutritional improvement and development of animal feed that contributes to sustainable livestock production, with a focus on monogastric animals (pigs and chickens). I am very interested in sourcing feed for animals that does not compete with human food resources: in this way we could enhance livestock productivity and efficiency, thus contributing to the sustainability of food systems. Moreover, I have been involved in a number of studies on chicken welfare and conservation of indigenous chicken breeds, which have aimed to promote sustainable livestock systems.

What can you tell us about your PhD?
I am one of eleven PhD students involved in The European Joint Doctorate in Molecular Animal Nutrition (MANNA), a Marie-Curie Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme. Within this program, each PhD student is co-supervised by two Universities and an industrial partner.

What is the focus of your research?
My research focuses on the effects of different ratios of omega 6/omega 3 fatty acids in the diet of gestating and lactating sows on piglets’ growth performance, intestinal health, immunity, proteome, and microbiome.  

Why did you decide to do your PhD at the University of Glasgow?
The University of Glasgow is one of nine academic institutions involved in the MANNA program: it is well-known for both its long history and its world-class quality research. It is my honour and privilege to be part of the university’s community.

What do you find most interesting about your work?
Working independently within a collaboration network that has a variety of working cultures and challenges. It means I can always seek support and also help others.

What has been the most positive aspect so far?
Benefitting from the wide collaboration program between different universities – it has enabled me to study many interesting courses and to attend training events, seminars and workshops in animal science, physiology and omics technologies.

What has been the most challenging aspect so far?
Traveling a lot has meant that I have needed to complete each task in a very short period of time.

What advice would you give to anyone doing or considering PhD?
If it is your dream, just go ahead. Don’t be afraid of falling down and getting back up: “Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living” (Jose N. Harris).

Tell us about your plans for the future
To go ahead, falling down and getting back up, again and again…

How has your research progressed since we last heard from you?
I finished an in-vivo trial and related experiments at University of Milan. We found the effect of altering ratios of omega 6:omega 3 fatty acids in gestating/lactating sow diets on both sows and their piglets’ performance: a low ratio was beneficial for sows’ body weight and piglets’ growth performance. The dietary ratios were transferred through the sows’ milk.

Have you come up against any unforeseen challenges?
I lost my laptop and cannot get it back! Luckily, I still have all of my data and documents in my email, Dropbox and USB drives. Nonetheless, I am proof that one should remember to BACKUP ALL THE TIME!

What are the most important lessons you learnt from your first year?
Working independently is important but cooperating with many other people in various universities is an asset too.

If you could tell your first-year-self 1 thing, what would it be?
Backup & restore!

First published: 25 February 2020