Nguyễn Bình (they/them)

Undergraduate Student in Astronomy and Linguistics, University of Arizona


I am Nguyễn Bình (IPA: [ŋwiən˦ˀ˥ ʔɓïŋ˨˩]), a non-binary undergraduate student at the University of Arizona. My main academic interest is in astronomy, but I became fascinated with linguistics in my first year at the U of A, hence a double major in Astronomy and Linguistics.

I am a native of Hanoi, Vietnam, and being born in such an old and historic city has inevitably inspired in me an undying affinity for culture. I carry my native culture everywhere I go, quoting Vietnamese folk songs in my writing and thinking about the existential loneliness of Bà Huyện Thanh Quan's poetry while stationed in an astronomical observatory on the mountains.



Since May 2021, I have been a member of The Besla Group, where I work with Dr. Gurtina Besla (University of Arizona) to understand how the dark matter mass profiles and kinematics of ultra-faint dwarfs (UFDs) evolve across cosmic time, using high-resolution, zoom-in cosmological simulations. UFDs are an interesting type of object which contains few stars but is dominated by dark matter, making them an ideal counterexample to the popular notion that dark matter, whatever it is, always goes hand in hand with ordinary baryonic matter.

In Summer 2022, I was also an intern at the summer program of the Space Telescope Science Institute, where I worked with Dr. Anna Wright (Johns Hopkins University) and the FOGGIE team to study the stellar halo of a Milky Way-mass galaxy (that is, a galaxy as heavy as our Milky Way) in cosmological simulations. The stellar halo of such a galaxy is where one can find remnants of the tiny satellite galaxies that the big one has eaten in order to grow up (galactic cannibalism, yikes!). If you're interested in the results of my project, my final symposium presentation can be found here!

Anyway, below is an animation showing how the dark matter distribution of a simulated UFD evolves from high to low redshifts. The contour plots used for this animation were generated by my research code.


Growing up in a light-polluted Southeast Asian country where astronomy remains underdeveloped, I view public outreach as a potential tool to encourage more aspiring astronomers from minoritized communities and help the field prosper. Therefore, in Vietnam, I am a frequent contributor to Tia Sáng, the official magazine of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and my articles in the magazine focus on topics in astronomy which I think deserve more attention. In the most recent series of articles, I take a look at the debate around the current definition of galaxies and ask what it can tell us about the way in which science defines things. You can find a complete list of my published articles here.

In the United States, besides my curricular work and research, I am employed as an operator of the 21” Raymond E. White, Jr. Telescope at Steward Observatory on campus (pictured below), where I engage in science communication with members of the public who come to visit.


Before and at the same time as my astronomy career, I also work as a writer, a translator, a singer-songwriter while also dabbling in photography and graphic design. My main focus is poetry; I write poems in Vietnamese, English and French with a combination of both free verse and classical forms (sonnets, lục bát, alexandrines, to name a few). Between 2019 and 2021, I finished and published a translation of the medieval Vietnamese novel-in-verse Tale of Kiều (Truyện Kiều) into English heroic couplets.

Selected Poems

The Tale of Kiều: A New Cry of Heart-Rending Pain, translated from the Vietnamese of Nguyễn Du. Hanoi: Writers’ Association Publishing House. 2021.
"Spectroscopy", read at The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory’s Graduation Ceremony, May 11, 2022.
"First Lagrangian Point." Euphony Journal. Winter 2021.
"The Dome’s Goodbye", read at The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory’s Graduation Ceremony, May 13, 2021.
"Phòng tường trắng" [White-Walled Room]. Viết & Đọc. Spring 2020. 143-158.

Selected Designs