Finding herself with her mentor’s support

Vananh Nguyen’s first year at OSU was tougher than she had anticipated. Nguyen, who emigrated from Vietnam while she was in high school, was searching for her interests and hoping to find herself. Then, through a friend, Nguyen met Wanda Crannell, academic advisor for bioreserouces research.

Vanahn Nguyen needed an outlet for her research interest, and Wanda Cranell knew where to send her, and how to support her work. (photo: Jim Folts)

Vanahn Nguyen needed an outlet for her research interest, and Wanda Cranell knew where to send her, and how to support her work. (photo: Jim Folts)

Nguyen had developed an interest in research, and Crannell helped Nguyen match that interest to a new major — bioresource research — that offered hands-on learning opportunities. Crannell continued to guide Nguyen on her career path by helping her to find an undergraduate research project, working with Arup Indra in the College of Pharmacy to study skin cancer protection using antioxidants. It was an unusual research opportunity for an undergraduate.

Through this research project, Nguyen was specifically hoping to better understand the AhR receptor for melanin production to further the medical understanding of how ultraviolet light damages DNA.

“We are looking at things like why some people respond differently, how the DNA responds to UV rays, as well as searching for more methods of prevention,” Nguyen says.

Beyond helping Nguyen find a research outlet for her interests, Crannell also encouraged
Nguyen to get involved in Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), where she was recently elected regional vice president.

“Vananh is absolutely fearless,” Crannell says. “She is willing to try new things, and she is always willing to jump in with both feet in order to get involved.”

“Helping Vananh find her leadership ability has been my pleasure,” Crannell continues. “She has great leadership skills, maintains a stellar GPA and balances that with her research — to do all that is not an easy task for anyone. She got involved on campus and found herself.”

~ Tara Pistorese

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