Thao Nguyen, PhD

Thao (Vicky) Nguyen, PhD, is an associate professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Dr. Nguyen obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1998, and an MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif., in 2004. She worked as a research scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., before joining Johns Hopkins in 2007. Her research focuses on the biomechanics of soft tissues and mechanics of stimuli-responsive polymers. Dr. Nguyen has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the National Science Foundation Career Award (2013) to investigate growth and remodeling of collagenous tissues.

"I am a mechanical engineer by training. My PhD dissertation was on the fracture of polymers, and was completely unrelated to biomechanics. However, at conferences and through interactions with colleagues, I was struck by the beauty and optimality in the design of soft tissues, especially those of the eyes. The microstructure of connective tissues of the eye rivals that of the most advanced engineering fiber composites. As an engineer, I wanted to understand how the structure of these tissues supports the function of the human vision system, and how we can leverage this understanding to develop more advanced diagnostics and therapies for glaucoma."