A senior within the Virginia Tech College of Engineering has been selected as a National Institutes of Health-Oxford-Cambridge Scholar.

Thao Do will graduate in May with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering, Honors Scholar diploma. She says she plans to spend 2010-12 on the National Institutes of Health main campus in Bethesda, Md., and 2012-14 in the United Kingdom, at either Oxford or Cambridge universities. She is a native of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, currently living in Springfield, Va.

The National Institutes of Health-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars program is an accelerated, individualized doctoral training program for outstanding science students committed to biomedical research, according to organizers.

The program enables students to undertake a collaborative project in any area of biomedical investigation involving mentors in Bethesda and at either Oxford or Cambridge. Students conduct research at both locations and potentially other sites, including field work in Africa and elsewhere around the world. All students also enjoy special educational opportunities that develop their understanding of disease outcomes and policy issues related to their studies. The projects culminate in the award of a Ph.D. in science from either Oxford or Cambridge.

Upon entering Virginia Tech, Do says she planned to focus solely on mechanical engineering, but her interest since has leaned toward biomedical engineering. “I stumbled into the field of biomedical engineering while developing applications for micro and nanotechnology,” Do said. “I learned that these technologies can be used to image and treat cancer in non-invasive methods, which can dramatically improve the quality of life for patients.”

Her ultimate career goal: Find non-invasive methods to detect and treat breast cancer and work with biomedical engineering researchers around the globe. “I would like to broaden my collaboration with researchers from other countries, especially my native country, Vietnam,” she said. “After I earn a doctorate degree, I am planning to teach science and engineering courses by incorporating techniques used by actors, musicians, and artists.”

Do was nationally recognized in 2009 and 2010 as a Goldwater Scholar.

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