Student with highest score at IBO fascinated with nature, biology
VietNamNet Bridge - Gaining the highest score at the 2018 International Biology Olympiad (IBO) where there were 261 participants, Nguyen Phuong Thao has become the first Vietnamese female student to receive the world’s highest score at an Olympiad.


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Nguyen Phuong Thao, the gold medalist at 2018 IBO


Thao, a 12th grader at Hanoi High School for the Gifted majoring in Names rural Sciences, a member school of the Hanoi National University, finished the competition with a gold medal and has been honored by the organization board as The First Winner.

In the biologists’ world, Thao is a well known name. She was a silver medalist at the 2017 IBO and the only Vietnamese female student winning Olympiad international medal in 2017.

The girl, born in 2000, has a friendly appearance and bright smile.

“I was very reluctant to speak English at IBO. However, I became more self-confident when communicating with friends from other countries,” she said, adding that she will continue to study English, as it is a good way for her to access foreign scientific materials.

Asked when she decided to study biology, Thao said as a ninth grader, she watched the Discovery TV channel and Animal World TV show, and found that “nature is wonderful and mysterious”. 

This prompted Thao to focus on biology and try to find answers to nature’s mysteries. 

When Thao was in the ninth grade, she won first prize at a competition for excellent students in Hanoi and came first in the entrance exam to the biology major class of the Hanoi High School for the Gifted majoring in Natural Sciences.

Asked when she decided to study biology, Thao said as a ninth grader, she watched the Discovery TV channel and Animal World TV show, and found that “nature is wonderful and mysterious”. 

Later, she won the second prize at the national competition for excellent students before passing the exam rounds to become a member of the Vietnamese national team attending IBO 2017, when she was an 11th grader.

At that time, Thao strived for first prize at the national competition. However, the exam results were below expectations. She was among top 10 excellent students, but only won second prize. 

However, with the support and encouragement from the teacher and friends, Thao won the silver medal at the 2017 IBO and gold medal at 2018 IBO.

Do Thi Thanh Huyen, her teacher, said Thao always wear a backpack with a lot of books inside, weighing about 8 kilograms. It is just like a mobile library that serves Thao’s study anywhere and at any time. Half of the luggage she brought abroad contained books.

Thao is not only good at biology, but also other subjects. She also likes playing with a Rubik cube, for example.


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Nguyen Thao


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