Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van - The World’s Talented Scientist

Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van - The World’s Talented Scientist

The jury of the United Nations educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the L’Oréal Foundation on June 22 presented the L’Oréal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Award in 2022 to Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van, a chemical scientist who is working at the HCM City University of Natural Resources and environment.

Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van.

 With her research in fuel cells and green hydrogen energy, establishing a green, renewable and sustainable energy cycle, avoiding the burning of fossil fuels, and reducing carbon emissions, Dr. Van has become one of the 15 young women scientists in the world to receive the award.

Dr. Van was born in 1980 to a family with a tradition in education in Dong Thap Province. In 1998, she was admitted to the University of Science and Technology, Viet Nam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. After graduating, she became a teacher in the Chemistry Department of the university.

After completing her Master’s degree in 2006, Van received a full Ph.D. scholarship from the Taiwan University of Science and Technology and got her degree in less than three years. During her time in Taiwan, Van filed a patent at the US patent office in Taiwan in the field of new energy.




In September 2013, Dr. Van returned to Vietnam, taking the position of Head of the Science, Technology, and External Relations Department of Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Resources and Environment. She has actively participated in teaching and researching. She has published 90 articles in domestic and foreign journals. She also participated in more than ten scientific projects and won many prestigious national and international science and technology awards.

In 2016, at the age of 36, Dr. Van was recognized as Associate Professor by the State Council for Professors. "I learned about fuel cells and solar cells while working abroad. I found that researching these materials is necessary and urgent because fossil energy is not a good source of energy. It has a finite reserve, which will gradually deplete and becomes increasingly scarce over time”.

In conventional fuel cells, the composition includes hydrogen gas, methanol, ethanol, oxidants and two electrodes which are made of platinum and graphite. Using platinum boosts fuel cell costs, while graphite has poor durability and harms the environment. Since 2011, Dr. Van and her colleagues have researched and developed a new material, both improving the CO tolerance and replacing 25% of the platinum for the cell.




In the field of fuel cells, Dr. Van encountered many challenges. Funding sources, costs and laboratory equipment, and the analytical techniques at the university did not live up to expectations. Many components had to be ordered from abroad.

Also, the models of research groups and teamwork skills are underdeveloped in Vietnam. However, those difficulties did not discourage this young scientist. She is even more eager to explore and overcome all barriers in terms of physical conditions and research development.

Dr. Van said, “This research will help to reduce the use of platinum, bringing cost-effectiveness, high performance, and durability to commercialize eco-friendly fuel cells.

The success of the study will contribute to opening the transitional path to a circular economy. By that time, renewable, green, and sustainable fuels will be used in a continuous cycle in Vietnam and the world”.



- In 2019, Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van was honored by L’Oréal - UNESCO for Women in Science International Awards 2019.
- In 2020, Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van was in the top 23 of the 100 Asian scientists voted
by Asian Scientist magazine.


- On June 22, 2022, the jury of UNESCO and the L'Oréal Foundation awarded the World Talented young Scientist Award 2022 to Dr. Ho Thi Thanh Van for her outstanding contributions to science and technology with the project "Research and development of fuel cells and green hydrogen energy - establishing a green, renewable and sustainable energy cycle".

Story: Thong Hai/VNP -  Photos: Thong Hai & Ho Thi Thanh Van's Files  - Translated by Hong Hanh