Building an impressive international network is second nature to Kimberly Tran (23), who does not let long distances stand in her way. ‘I am fascinated by the opportunity to explore the chemical industry and academia beyond the borders of the Netherlands.’

Due to a weaker immune system, a typical student life was unfortunately not an option for Kimberly Tran (23). However, this did not stop her from building a remarkable international network within the chemical community, all while dedicated to her chemistry studies at the HAN University of Applied Science in Nijmegen. ‘Living on campus or socializing like typical students was not feasible for me’, she shares, ‘so I quickly turned to alternative ways of networking and connecting with people.’


This path led Tran to Jong KNCV, where she first got to know the association while working as its secretary. After a year, an opportunity arose to become a delegate, leading her to organizations like the International Younger Chemists Network (IYCN) and the European Young Chemists’ Network (EYCN). As an IYCN and EYCN delegate, Tran promotes international contacts within the chemical community. ‘One example is “Eurospectives”, where international chemists share their experiences in short videos and discuss how to overcome cultural barriers.’

Additionally, Tran represented Jong KNCV at various European delegate assemblies and conferences. At these meetings, delegates from all over Europe share their experiences. Not only do they get to know each other better and expand their networks, but they also discover different national perspectives on chemistry.

Out-of-the-box thinking

Tran has learned how to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds through her international experience. This proved particularly useful during her internship at H2O Biofouling. This Dutch company specializes in the ecological control of unwanted growth and corrosion of materials in seawater. Tran started her internship in the Netherlands, where she developed a program to analyze water conditions. ‘Finding the right balance between preventing corrosion, biofouling, and scaling while not compromising water quality is essential’, she explains.

Afterward, she was sent to Gonfreville in northwestern France to test the setup. There, lunch wasn’t just a simple Dutch dry sandwich with cheese, but a hearty warm meal of steak frites. And this wasn’t the only notable difference. She observed that within the international team she was working, problems were approached in a different manner. Unlike the direct problem-solving approach typical for the Dutch, there was extensive brainstorming and analysis beforehand. ‘I think it is interesting to see what the chemical industry and academia looks like outside of the Netherlands. People from diverse backgrounds approach challenges differently. A diverse team leads to out-of-the-box thinking.’

Her position as a delegate and her internship experience have further fueled her fascination with diversity and the international landscape. As this article was being written, Tran was preparing to leave for the United States for her final internship, focusing on atmospheric analysis. Throughout this experience, her focus remains on expanding her network and uncovering new opportunities. ‘Building connections is crucial in the world of chemistry; if you overlook this aspect, you’re missing out.’

Kimberly Tran 2

Kimberly Tran

Beeld: Duncan de Fey

Who is Kimberly?

What are you studying and where?

‘I study Chemistry at the HAN University of Applied Science in Nijmegen, and I’m currently enrolled in my final year. After my internship in America, I’ll be finished.’

Wat drives you in your work?

‘Developing new knowledge and networking with new people greatly interests me. That is why I decided to perform an internship abroad. People from different backgrounds approach problems differently. This is what makes networking with new people such an enriching experience. Even despite our varied backgrounds, we share a common passion for finding solutions.’

What are your short-term ambitions?

‘To successfully complete my internship and studies. If I enjoy the internship in America, I might consider pursuing a master’s degree in this field.’

What are your long-term ambitions?

‘Many researchers struggle to bring their great ideas to the market, which is a shame. I would like to work as a consultant, helping researchers navigate this process.’