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21-year-old Student Secures Full PhD Scholarship in Bioengineering at Top US Tech Institute

A 21-year-old Vietnamese student in the UK has secured a full PhD scholarship in Bioengineering worth $116,000 annually from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

A 21-year-old Vietnamese student in the UK has secured a full PhD scholarship in Bioengineering worth $116,000 annually from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Born in 2003, Phung Phuoc Nguyen Anh received his acceptance letter from Caltech in late February, just before turning 21.

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Caltech, known for its rigorous admissions and high number of Nobel laureates, is a premier global university in STEM, with a small student body of around 2,000.

The six-year PhD program will cover all of Anh’s tuition and living expenses.

Originally from Ho Chi Minh City, Anh attended the High School for the Gifted at Vietnam National University, HCMC. In 11th grade, he moved to the UK to attend Westbourne School.

Anh graduated from Westbourne in 2021 with a perfect IB score of 45, becoming the first student in the school’s history to achieve perfect scores in both the IB and A-Level exams.

These achievements earned him admission offers from five UK universities, including Cambridge, UCL, Manchester, King’s College London, and Warwick. He chose to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge, ranked second globally in the QS World University Rankings 2024, and is currently in his third year.

Anh decided to bypass a master’s program and applied directly for the PhD at Caltech. He interned at Caltech in summer 2023, securing support from professors for his application.

During his studies at Cambridge, Anh began experimental research in his first year and consistently impressed his professors with his innovative ideas and independent working style. He obtained three recommendation letters from professors at Cambridge and Caltech for his PhD application.

In his application essay, Anh detailed his motivation for pursuing a PhD and his research experiences. He highlighted the importance of showcasing a clear vision and significant research journey, which are valued by American universities.

Balancing his final-year undergraduate studies and refining his application essay was stressful, but ultimately rewarding.

Anh emphasized that studying in the UK helped him build a strong academic foundation, which served as a springboard for his US ambitions. He maintained close relationships with professors and strategically chose a lab aligned with his research interests.

A significant milestone was representing Cambridge at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition in France, where his team won a Gold Medal and a Top 5 Engineering award.

Anh’s academic journey includes numerous achievements: an IELTS score of 8 in ninth grade, First Prize in a citywide Biology Competition, top scores in Biology at his high school, and a Gold Medal in the British Biology Olympiad and UK Chemistry Olympiad.

After his first year of college, Anh shifted his focus from Biology to Chemistry and Mathematics to enhance his quantitative skills, winning the Ray Driver Prize in 2023 for outstanding achievements in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry.

As he begins his PhD at Caltech, Anh plans to continue his research in molecular engineering of biological systems, aiming to apply his findings in medicine and daily life. He looks forward to developing impactful, real-world projects during his PhD program.

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SOURCES: ALLSCHOOL, VN Express

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