Phuc Tran, Senior Lab Analyst

Emerging Leader: Phuc Tran, Senior Laboratory Analyst

Jim Force, CWEA Correspondent, Emerging Leaders
Phuc Tran, Senior Laboratory Analyst, City of Vacaville

Phuc Tran, Senior Laboratory Analyst, City of Vacaville

Phuc Tran not only performs water and wastewater analysis at Vacaville, he teaches others in the art and science of analytical methods. “I enjoy teaching others,” he says.

He says that new hires often join the laboratory staff based on equivalent education, not on experience and basic skills. “I try to train them in the ins-and-outs of laboratory analysis, how to put aside old customs and learn new skills. How to manage resources to adapt to the needs of our client.”

“Phuc is one of those people who really understands what’s going on behind the laboratory process,” says laboratory supervisor Michael Torres. “He comprehends not only the analytical steps involved in a procedure but the chemistry and microbiology behind it. “That’s why we’ve made him our principal trainer. He has great pedagogical skills.”

Phuc studied at Cal State Sacramento and received his degree in environmental sciences. His thesis explored the impact of fluoride in water.

Following his education, he worked at a number of private contract laboratories, then joined the Vacaville staff as a laboratory analyst five years ago. Today he is one of two senior analysts, supervising a staff of five.

Phuc says his experience on the private side taught him a lot about how the laboratory can and should serve the needs of its clients. He sees the laboratory technician as a “pollution analyst” who needs to dive in and diagnose the situation, determine what variables and requirements there are, and adapt to new and different technology. He focuses on what the client needs—in this case, the city’s water and wastewater systems.

“Phuc is extremely valuable to our operation,” says Torres. “Technically, he’s a very astute individual. He’s our right hand in the laboratory.”

As for the future, Tran would like to expand his teaching to others. He has approached his alma mater—Cal State Sacramento—with an offer to share his analytical experience with students studying analytical methods and training to become new members of the laboratory profession.

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