Hao Nguyen

Graduate Student - Weng Lab


Yiqun Weng

Research Focus

Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics PhD


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Where did you complete your undergraduate/master’s/PhD?

I completed my undergraduate from the University of Nottingham with a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Biotechnology

What is your research about and what is the impact? How does it relate to the horticulture industry, what is the goal?

During long-term domestication and breeding history, flavor have long been omitted, in contrast to some agronomical important traits, such as yield and disease resistance. There is now an increasing demand for major crops with enhanced fruit quality, to both sustain a growing population and improve human health. My research focuses on discovering of the genetic basis of fruit quality in cucumber, such as aroma- and flavor-enhancing traits. The ultimate goal of my research is to develop new germplasm with improved flavor for fresh consumption or elevated accumulation of certain volatile compounds for industrial use.

Why did you choose UW-Madison? What is your favorite part of Madison?

I chose UW-Madison because of the lab, my supervisor and research projects. I can see myself growing personally and professionally in this environment for the next few years. Working along with these projects, I will also be able to apply my strengths in cell biology and improve my weaknesses in molecular breeding, especially the computational part.

My favorite part of Madison is the Memorial Union Terrace. I enjoy spending time with friends in the evening, sitting close to the lake shore and watching peaceful sunset.

What was the path you took to work in plant sciences? And then what advice would you give to your younger self to get into the field/career you are in today?

Despite the fact that my family directed me toward medical field, I was always drawn toward plant sciences naturally and effortlessly (which explains my Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology with 90% plant-related courses…)

I had chances to visit different farms and work for a family-own seed business in Malaysia during my college years. I learnt the impacts of seed industry to the global economy and my determination to work in this industry started to grow from there. After I graduated from college, I worked for Intrexon Corp. and BASF Vegetable Seeds in Davis, CA for three years. Gratefully, I had wonderful mentorships and got fascinated about novel technologies being applied in this field. Thoughts to contribute more to this segment urged me to go back to grad school and to get well-rounded knowledge in plant breeding and plant genetics.

I have been through from times to times making important decisions in my life and then suffered from the doubt of uncertainty. If I could give an advice to my younger self, I would say to myself to trust my intuition. Passion and persistence will somehow often lead you to the right path.