International Women’s Day Spotlight on Vivian Vuong

Vivian Vuong wearing a green jacket
Vivian Vuong (Steven Trinh/UC Davis)

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, the University of California, Davis, College of Engineering recognizes women in engineering, their journey to and in the field, and how they promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

Meet Vivian Vuong, a UC Davis engineering alumna and lecturer in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and learn how she inspires inclusion in engineering.

What inspired you to pursue engineering? Describe your journey to UC Davis.

In middle school I took a "technology" class as my elective in 7th grade, which really opened my eyes to what engineering can be. When I got to UC Davis for my B.S. in biological systems engineering, I really didn't know if I wanted to continue as an engineering. However, the Fadi Fathallah and the rest of the biological and agricultural engineering department really welcomed me and made me aware of how engineering can help the world.

Describe your current research and its impact.

I work on high throughput phenotyping in Solanaceae crops - specifically tomatoes and peppers. This research helps give plant breeders tools to select better, high-quality, and high-yielding plant crops. These new plant crops would help farmers increase the yield in their fields and allow them to grow high-quality crops.

The 2024 International Women’s Day theme is #InspireInclusion. Why is it important to "inspire inclusion" in the engineering field?

Everybody belongs in engineering! Engineering is about creatively using our engineering skills to help the world. Diversity in engineering means we can have so many points of view and life experiences working on the same problem - increasing creativity in problem-solving!

What people or programs have inspired inclusion throughout your journey in engineering?

PEGS21 at UC Davis, Alin Wakefield, Ada Lovelace

How do you make others feel welcome in engineering and promote diversity and equity in the field?

I encourage open and honest communication in my classrooms. I also try to give as my individual support as possible since I know some students aren't as comfortable raising their hands to ask questions or speak up in front of the class.

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