Daily Bruin features video interview of chemistry instructor Dr. Hủng Viêt Pham

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Chemistry instructor Hủng Viêt Pham (PhD ’15 Houk group) reflects on his hometown of Little Saigon and his experiences as a Vietnamese American.

In the short video, which is part of the Daily Bruin‘s “Faces of UCLA” video series, Pham reflects on growing up in Orange County as a first-generation Vietnamese American, his tight-knit community, and the inspiration he draws from his immigrant parents. Pham’s father came to the U.S. speaking no English yet he worked his way up from janitor to product design engineer for an engineering firm, without ever receiving a formal degree.  

Pham graduated magna cum laude from UC Irvine (UCI) in 2008, with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in mathematics. He worked as physical science tutor advisor at UCI’s Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC) for two years before being accepted to the UCLA chemistry doctoral program. Under the direction of Professor Ken Houk, Pham conducted research in the field of computational organic chemistry, focusing mainly on cycloadditions of allenes and arenes but also dabbling in metathesis reactions, host-guest chemistry, and synthetic mechanistic studies in collaboration with Professor Chris Vanderwal at UCI. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 2015.

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In the video titled “

Faces of UCLA: An Empire in Orange County”

 on YouTube, Pham speaks Vietnamese in the beginning of the interview.

Soon after receiving his Ph.D., Pham began his teaching career as an adjunct professor at Santa Monica College, focusing on organic and general chemistry classes. He returned to UCLA in 2016 where he currently teaches organic chemistry.  

In 2017, Pham and his friends started an escape room in Irvine, called “UNLOCKED”. According to the UNLOCKED website, an escape room is “a puzzle solving and teamwork-based activity in which your team is placed in a room and given an overarching mission to complete within 60 minutes.”  Pham’s escape room was featured in the Daily Bruin in November 2018.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.