Richard Tran Emphasizes Collaboration Over Competition and Working Together Towards a Common Goal

Richard Tran recently graduated from California State University - Long Beach with a major in Materials Science Chemistry and a minor in Music. 

A photo of Richard Tran standing by a university sign wearing a graduation gown and yellow stole.

I will be attending UC Davis this fall to pursue my PhD in Chemistry, with a focus on the inorganic tract. I hope to pursue a rather non-traditional career in science policy to be able to work as a science advisor to either government agencies or U.S Representatives or Senators.

What is your research about?

My research interests lie in low dimensional materials, specifically Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMD). I focus on synthesizing these materials to improve the cost effectiveness in making these materials. Eventually, as I expand on my expertise, I also want to research applications on TMDs for industry use and sociotechnical analysis for future policies.

What science policy projects and/or committees are you involved in?

Currently I am writing an Op Ed with Allie Johnson and Theresa La in regards to AI regulation in the medical industry. When I attend UC Davis in the fall, I plan to get involved in Science Says, a science communication group at UC Davis. I also want to do some side research on the prestige of the academic system and how it affects the science of science. In the future I hope to do some internships at the UC Center for Sacramento, hopefully closely related to the CA Council On Science & Tech (CCST).

What made you interested in science policy?

While I was completing my undergraduate, I realized I felt very isolated as a researcher, whether in terms of collaborating with people (which often led to competition) or in making an impact in the community.

I found that science policy fit my interests of wanting to work in a collaborative, high impact environment. So then I started reading books and realized how much science affects our everyday policy decisions. I was deeply saddened by our rather relaxed regulation on companies when it comes to dumping chemicals in water. This led to disasters like the Teflon crisis or PFOS in the California water wells. For every new material we introduce, I want to make sure it doesn't cause environmental disasters that could have been prevented.

Another catalyst to further my interest in science policy was the recent polarization of our politics. I was intrigued as to how and why this came to be. I learned why we have a two party political system and since then I wanted to be a bridge by applying science to our everyday politics so that we can make more informed decisions. Unfortunately, no matter the side, science can be manipulated or misrepresented and the data can be used to misinform people.

What do you enjoy doing outside of science policy?

Rock climbing! I have a pet cat and a pet snake. I'm an audiophile! I love to check out the latest and greatest in sound technology. I’m also into technology development, particularly in the mobile market.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself and your work in science policy?

I hope to encourage a normality in pursuing careers outside of academia and industry (for those pursuing higher education). I want to also encourage more collaboration, rather than competition, in the scientific environment.

Lastly, it is a huge order, but I would like to find a way to curb academic prestige and how it negatively affects our academic environment - for example, scandals to get into top universities, citation bias, and limited social mobility.

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To learn more about Richard, follow him on Twitter: @SpectorianS

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