Tan Dao '21

UNH Alum Wins Prestigious Graduate Fellowship

Tan Dao, a 2021 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, was recently awarded The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a merit-based graduate school program for immigrants and children of immigrants. Selected from nearly 2,000 applicants, the 30 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows are chosen for their achievements and their potential to make meaningful contributions to the United States across fields of study. They each will receive up to $90,000 in funding to support their graduate studies at institutions such as Harvard University, MIT, Stanford University, and Yale University.

Born in Tay Ninh, Vietnam, Dao grew up with limited access to technology and education, so he dreamt of the futuristic America of endless opportunities where his grandparents, aunts, and uncle lived. It wasn't until Tan turned 11 that his family came to the United States as permanent residents and reunited with their extended family. Being brought to a new world and witnessing the contrast in the quality of life sparked Tan’s desire to learn, understand, and develop better technology. Provided with unyielding supports from his family, Tan decided to study physics to advance energy-efficient technology through novel quantum material discovery.

As an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, Tan began research in the lab of Professor Shawna Hollen, where he became interested in low-dimensional materials because of their novel electronic properties. Tan also explored his interest in computational condensed matter physics in Professor Jiadong Zang's group, where he studied the role of topology in magnetic textures. While in college, Tan also did outreach activities at a local elementary school to inspire budding scientists. 

Tan is pursuing his childhood dream as a PhD student in physics at Harvard University. Tan is working on synthesizing a new quantum material and studying its electronic properties at the atomic level in Professor Jennifer Hoffman’s lab. He is also working toward promoting higher education in STEM to students at Harvard and recent Vietnamese immigrants in Boston.

Tan hopes to become a professor, exploring the world of quantum materials together with his students while also becoming a role model mentor to the next generation of young scientists.