Las Vegas, N.M. – A Highlands University biology graduate returned to his homeland of Vietnam to work as a technical development project manager for a leading seafood company that is increasing food supplies for his country and internationally.
Son Tran, B.S. biology 2015, joined Viet-UC Seafood in January 2016.
“My company is conducting trials on new technology to see if it fits our operation and business expansion,” said the 24-year-old Tran. “I am the bridge connecting the new technology companies with our technical staff at Viet-UC.”
Tran gave the example of working with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, a top Australian research institute, on three different breeding programs for tiger shrimp, white leg shrimp, and catfish.
“My company is expanding rapidly and has moved into shrimp farming. We also have a new shrimp feed mill and a new catfish hatchery. My work is interesting and I love it,” Tran said.
Tran was 10 in 2003 when his family moved from Can Tho, in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, to the United States. The family settled in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where extended family owned the Little Saigon and Little Moon restaurants.
Tran graduated from Robertson High School in 2011 and enrolled at Highlands the same year. While pursuing his education, he never forgot about Vietnam.
“I always longed to return to Vietnam. It’s home for me and I missed it a lot. It’s a joyful feeling to be back helping feed my people and provide good opportunities for them as my company grows,” Tran said.
He returned to Las Vegas in June 2017 to visit family – including helping his father celebrate his 65th birthday – and reconnect with friends.
Reflecting on his time at Highlands, Tran said three science professors influenced and inspired him in significant ways, including giving him a good foundation toward career success.
“Dr. Jesús Rivas taught me how the natural world works from an ecology perspective. Dr. Carol Linder taught me how cells within our body function to keep us alive. Dr. Edward Martínez taught me how to be a critical thinker and the importance of data analysis in research,” Tran said.
He said what he learned from these professors directly relates to his current work.
“This knowledge will also transfer to other professional positions. My career is just beginning,” Tran said.
He said he gained valuable research experience at Highlands including his senior project that studied potential effects of bullfrogs on crayfish at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge. Rivas was his research adviser.
“Our major finding was that the bullfrog didn’t have a significant effect on the crayfish population at the wildlife refuge. However, there were signs that the bullfrogs are changing the crayfish behavior, which is known as the ecology of fear,” Tran said.
Rivas said he could always count upon Tran to do the hard work of field and lab research, whether it was catching snakes during the blistering heat of midday or doing detailed lab analysis that required strong focus.
“Son was an important member of our research team when my tropical ecology class traveled to Veracruz, Mexico in 2014,” Rivas said. “He observed close parallels between the rainforest he grew up with in Vietnam and the Veracruz rainforest.”
Tran said Highlands was a great place to learn and grow.
“Highlands gave me so many opportunities in a supportive environment that helped me find the right path to reach my goals. ARMAS in particular was very important to my success, whether I was studying there, working with graduate students or getting the books I needed,” Tran said.
ARMAS is the nationally recognized Achieving in Research, Math and Science Center at Highlands.
“I’ve very grateful for all the people at Highlands who cared about me and were incredibly supportive,” Tran said.