My name is Phu Phan. I’m from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I have moved to the United States when I was 15 years old. I love traveling, biking, and taking photos. (you can see some photos in the gallery)
I’m best known for once eating 100 chicken McNuggets in one sitting. Besides my eating habit, I like taking photos whenever I visit new cities. I’m fortunate to visit ~30 states in America and try my best to visit the rest of the states before I come back to my country.
My pronouns are:
Phu Phan (“Fu Fan”) is he/him. One way to remember: “Fu Fan” is for fun.
I’m a catalyst researcher at Johnson Matthey, where I can focus on helping car engines and truck engines to emit a tiny small amount of pollutants into the atmosphere.
As we know, the flexibility and convenience of cars or trucks make our daily life easier. However, increased vehicles would bring problems of pollutions. All combustion engines that are fuelled by gasoline (petrol) or diesel, emit pollutants into the atmosphere, and these impact our health and the environment. For this reason, I decide to work with a group of scientists at Johnson Matthey to find out the best “recipe” of catalyst that can reduce pollutants of the truck engine into the atmosphere.
My Typical Day:
I wake up around 6 am and spend my first hours to meditate exercise and reading. Then, I bike to work around 7:30 am and spend my whole time through meetings, working on different experiments in the lab.
Ideal day: After waking up around 6 am, I meditate for 20 minutes and spend the next 30 minutes exercising. I take a cold shower in the morning and then spend a quiet time reading 10 pages of a book. I bike to work around 7:30 am and spend my first hour to reply emergency emails from my group about the projects. After that, I spend most of my time in the lab and pilot plant working on different experiments. I usually go home at 4 pm and spend my time talking with my family back in Vietnam for an hour. At 6 pm, my partner and I spend cooking dinner and enjoy the rest of the night by watching movies on Netflix.
What I'd do with the prize money:
If I won the prize money, I would like to give any high school students who design an impactful project and need a budget to make it come true on a small scale.
I would like to work with a different group of students who have an idea of projects that can make a small positive impact on the environment. For example, we can work on how to build a solar panel to generate electricity from the Sun. It can be any STEM project from climate change to medical technology. I want to give away this money not only to support students’ projects but also to learn how they can challenge themselves and overcome the problems.
High School: Crossroads College Preparatory School (Saint Louis, MO)
College: Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
Graduate School: Master of Science in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University
R&D Chemist at Johnson Matthey (from April 2019-now)
Application Chemist Internship at Sartomer (from April to September 2018)
Chemist Internship at Henry (from May to September 2017)
Researcher at Drexel University (from Sept. 2019 to Sept. 2021)
Research and Development Chemist at Wayne, Johnson Matthey
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
quirky, hard-working, open-minded
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Decide to live by myself when I'm junior in high school
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I inspired my dad to follow my career
What was your favorite subject at school?
It's hard to decide, but math was my favorite subject at school
What did you want to be after you left school?
Become an engineer
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes even I did not speak anyone about this
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I like to become a chef at a restaurant if I weren't doing my job
Who is your favorite singer or band?
What's your favorite food?
Absolute 100% Pizza
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I used to snowboard towed by the electric bike on the neighbor street (~25mph)
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Hmmm.. I just need one wishes: always be happy
Tell us a joke.
You Matter. Until you multiply yourself times the speed of light squared. Then you Energy