Trieu Le

Treiu Le, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate, Sick Kids Hospital

PhD in Biochemistry
Duke University '21
Advisor: Huanghe Yang

BS in Biochemistry
Utica College

Trieu started her postdoc at SickKids Hospital in Toronto where she is working under the co-supervision of Dr. Sergio Grinstein and Dr. Spencer Freeman.

On Choosing Duke

From the beginning of the application process, I felt very welcomed and supported at Duke. While preparing my application, I reached out to the Chair, Dr. Dick Brennan and Dr. Paul Modrich, and beyond my expectations, they replied with program details and advice on the application process. It felt even more welcoming when I interviewed on campus. I had great discussions with the professors that interviewed me and with the students. Furthermore, the research topics at Duke are very appealing to me and I felt that the diverse and collaborative research environment would help me grow as a scientist.

Deciding on a Postdoc

After carefully considering my career options, along with thoughtful suggestions from my advisor, Dr. Huanghe Yang, I decided a postdoc would be a great step to gain more experience about membrane dynamics, especially in the context of cell biology - a topic that I’m very passionate about. 

Duke Career Services

Duke Career Service does a great job of keeping everyone connected and offers an abundance of resources, particularly online tools, that help students explore different career paths. Duke also has a strong alumni network, including many members who have built successful careers in my field. Beyond networking, internships, and job opportunities, Career Services frequently hosted job application workshops and one-on-one career consulting appointments, which I found very helpful.

The Biochemistry Department also helped students prepare for their careers. As a graduate student, I had ample opportunities to present my studies at national and international conferences. My fellow PhD students and I were also encouraged to get involved in writing research articles, grant applications, and scientific workshops. These opportunities sharpened our scientific skillsets, expanded our networking opportunities, and prepared us for the next steps in our careers.

The best part of the program is the tremendous support I received from the department and my advisor. Thanks to their support and the opportunities they gave me, I was able to define my research goals and gain relevant research skills for my current and future career path. I feel confident and prepared for my postdoc and any future job.

Advice for Prospective Students 

Grad school is a safe zone where you can try, make mistakes and learn—so keep an open mind and experience new things. For example, rotate through a lab that you never thought would interest you, take classes that are outside of your comfort zone, and get involved in different extracurricular activities. These experiences will bring you new perspectives about science, career, and personal development.

Current Research

At SickKids Hospital in Toronto, I’m working under the co-supervision of Dr. Sergio Grinstein and Dr. Spencer Freeman. I’m using single-molecule tracking to research phagocytic checkpoint pathways in relation to how cancer cells evade the immune system. Understanding this will pave the way for future research on strategies to help our immune system detects cancer cells more effectively. My day in the lab is somewhat similar to my last year as a PhD student—I generate research questions, form hypotheses, and design experiments to examine my hypotheses. As my current research topic is quite different from that in my PhD training, I have opportunities to learn and apply many new techniques.