Tu Le graduated with an Honours Degree in Chemistry from Hanoi University in her home country Vietnam. Subsequently, she moved to Australia and obtained a PhD from Swinburne University in 2010 studying computational simulation of hyperbranched polymers. She then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which later was converted to a research scientist position working on a commercial project. Currently, Tu is a Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow from RMIT (Australia). She is also a founder and the Managing Science Director of the International Innovative Research Network, which organises scientific conferences with a focus on supporting researchers from developing countries.
How do you break the stereotypes in science?
I was born in Vietnam, where I also completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. I then came to Australia for my PhD. I know there are many students in Vietnam that would like to study overseas but cannot afford it. Also, there are many excellent students that performed there studies overseas and then go back to Vietnam, where they have limited opportunities to network with researchers from overseas due to the limited funding opportunities.
I also have two daughters. I have been lucky to work in an environment supportive of international colleagues and people with career breaks. I think in terms of my track record I am doing okay. I am competitive enough to do what I want to do, but career breaks have a massive effect on someone’s career. I used to take my kids and husband to international conferences, because I did not want to have a gap in my CV. There are some small grants of $200-300 to support carers, but that is not enough money to cover the childcare and sometimes the mother does not want to be separated from the child. Therefore, we need more grants to support families to go to conferences overseas.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What are the three qualities you would like to be remembered for?
Empowering, inspiring and kind
Cultural diversity in research
It is not just the language, it is also about the culture. In other countries there is also a different research culture, to have someone in the team that knows a different research culture can be extremely beneficial for collaborations.
What is your attitude towards failure?
Everyone fails sometimes. But I don’t take it as a bad thing. I take it as a lesson, rather than a failure. I will try to learn from it, so I will not repeat it again.