Introducing the team selected to represent Australia at the 2024 International Physics Olympiad!

  • Introducing the team selected to represent Australia at the 2024 International Physics Olympiad! image

Congratulations to the team of students selected to represent Australia at the International Physics Olympiad being held on 21 to 29 July 2024 in Iran.

The team was honoured at the Australian Olympiad Teams Announcement at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra on 24 June 2024. The ‘blazer ceremony’ was attended by the students and their families, program teams and distinguished guests from science, math and informatics communities, along with Australia’s Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ed Husic MP and other Members of Parliament.

Their journey started by sitting the nation-wide Australian Science Olympiad (ASO) Exam in July 2023 before being selected to attend ASO Summer School in January 2024, onsite at the Australian National University. These five students have outperformed thousands of other students in qualifying exams and intensive training to earn their place on the team.

The team have gained immense knowledge and skills during the last year, under the guidance of Program Director, Lachlan McGinness, and Co-Deputy Program Directors, Kinjal Dani and Maggie Webber, along with a team of physics enthusiasts. The students have been supported by their teachers and schools, along with their families and friends, to reach the prestigious achievement of being selected to represent Australia.

Please note that the Australian team will not be travelling to Iran, and no virtual alternative option is available. We prioritise student and staff safety and will only travel to locations DFAT advise to be safe and, as part of the planning process, we monitor the advice issued by them for all locations.

Your dedication and hard work have been truly inspiring, and we are pleased the team experienced the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiads in June and achieved exceptional results.

Ian Lai

Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics & Technology, QLD

Physics is Ian’s favourite discipline because of the immense satisfaction that comes when experiments align with theory, providing convincing explanations for the concepts and formulas taught. He loved the opportunity to engage in experiments and practical demonstrations at Summer School held at ANU, and can’t wait to do the same at the International Physics Olympiad while collaborating with his fellow team members.

Ian’s biggest inspiration is Shuji Nakamura, a determined scientist that persevered through corporate adversity to invent the blue LED light, a breakthrough that revolutionised lighting, imaging and numerous other applications. He also gives his thanks to physics teacher, Ms. Bebbington, whose knowledge and humour made math and experimentation fun and unexpected.
Outside of science, Ian enjoys reading, playing the piano and violin, badminton, and running. Although he doesn’t have concrete plans for his career yet, engineering, especially in emerging fields requiring practical knowledge, appeals to him. He plans to explore this area further and hopes to find a field he is passionate about.

Ian is full of tips and tricks for the lab, including to overestimate the time required for a lab experiment to give yourself extra time, make sure you are comfortable with the basics of the scientific discipline, and don’t forget to practise your problem solving skills.

Ian was excited to immerse himself in experiments at the Asian Physics Olympiad, where he met fellow passionate students and engaged in the thrill of physics’ practical questions and problem solving!

Previous ASI Achievements

Ian was selected for the Junior Science Olympiad Spring School and the International Junior Science Olympiad in 2022. Ian represented Australia at the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad and won a Gold medal.

Joel Lee

James Ruse Agricultural High School, NSW

As a student at James Ruse Agricultural High School, Joel’s passion for physics is evident in his enthusiasm for using mathematics to solve problems, underlying his huge desire to comprehend how the world around him works. He especially loved the variety of demonstrations and practicals at Summer School at the ANU, and Asian Physics Olympiad, and the way the team has begun to understand the physics principles behind these phenomena.

Joel is inspired by Max Planck’s solution to the UV catastrophe, which he admires for its revolutionary nature and Planck’s unconventional thinking. By introducing the concept of quantized electromagnetic radiation, Planck challenged the established science of the time and opened the door to a whole new field of physics. This kind of groundbreaking approach is what fuels Joel’s passion for the subject.

Outside of academics, Joel enjoys playing sports, especially soccer, and listening to many different types of music. Looking ahead, he aims for a career in STEM, likely pursuing a science degree focused on physics and mathematics. Representing Australia at the International Physics Olympiad, Joel is eager to learn more physics, tackle challenging problems, and meet other competitors from around the world.

Joel encourages others to “just go for it,” emphasizing that Science Olympiads are a great learning experience that he would recommend to anyone interested in giving the opportunity a try!

Previous ASI Achievements

Joel represented Australia at the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad and won a Gold medal.

Eason Yichen Yang

Trinity Grammar School, VIC

A Year 11 student at Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne, Eason’s journey in science started in Year 7 when he took the Junior Science Olympiad exam. He describes the programs as some of the greatest academic experiences he’s ever had, especially with the opportunities to conduct experiments, collaborate with friends and learn about physics! Physics stands out as Eason’s favourite branch of science because of its wide applicability, enabling predictions in diverse contexts, from electrons to planets.

He’s inspired by Albert Einstein’s personality, perspective and accomplishments in science. While attempting to resolve conflicting theories of physics, Einstein chose to challenge the widely assumed, pre-existing Galilean Transformations model, which led to a refreshed understanding of the functioning of our universe as we know it… and this “outside of the box” thinking has greatly inspired Eason to do the same.

His advice for other scientists is to “look past the present, you can’t change what happened in an exam, so worrying about it is a waste of time and energy.” Outside of his academic pursuits, Eason enjoys playing tennis, the oboe, and chess.

Eason enjoyed the Asian Physics Olympiad, where he met science students from all over the world, learnt about local culture and tasted delicious cuisine!

Previous ASI Achievements

Eason was selected for the Junior Science Olympiad Spring School and the International Junior Science Olympiad in 2022. Eason represented Australia at the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad and won a Silver medal.

Houlai Zhou

Sydney Grammar School, NSW

Houlai has been captivated by the sciences, particularly the physics, thanks to its unique ability to predict and explain confusing and often counterintuitive phenomena. He credits his brother as his biggest inspiration as they continue to challenge each other to learn new things, fuelling Houlai’s passion for science.

His fascination with physics stems from the way we can describe any practical situations with maths while maintaining and appreciating the unpredictability that comes from the real life! Houlai admires Newton for laying the foundational principles of physics and Boltzmann for developing statistical mechanics, a concept he believes is central to all fields of physics.

Outside of science, Houlai has developed an interest in the human arts and history, particularly drawing parallels between music, literature, and science throughout history. While this interest won’t replace his passion for science, it has provided him with a broader perspective on why specific ideas emerged at different times.

Looking ahead, Houlai is interested in exploring careers in quantum computing or material science, because they show him potential to make an impact on society and remain closely involved with the frontiers of physics. When confronting challenging problems, Houlai tells us to “Give it a shot! If you’re ever in doubt of your abilities, don’t forget that they’re hard for everyone else as well – not just you!”

Previous ASI Achievements

Houlai represented Australia at the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad and won a Gold medal.

David Xiaoli Zhu

North Sydney Boys High School, NSW

David, a Year 12 student at North Sydney Boys High School, has always been mathematically oriented and loved numbers, studying advanced topics like calculus and complex numbers ahead of the school syllabus. However, delving deeper into these abstract principles left him demotivated, as he couldn’t see their real-world applications. This changed when he discovered physics, which sparked his interest by showing how mathematical tools describe the physical phenomena that govern our worlds.

David loved Summer School held at the ANU because he was able to tackle challenging concepts, make new friends and immerse himself in the world of university-level physics. He was delighted do the same at the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad!

David’s lab tips include taking the time to understand concepts, experimenting with equipment, and practicing error calculations, graphing, and interpolation to save time during lab exams. Outside of science, he enjoys listening to classical and romantic music, playing the clarinet, programming in Python and C, and reading non-fiction about history.

In the future, he is considering studying science with a major in physics, perhaps focussing on quantum science and quantum computing. With inspirations like Richard Feynman, David aspires to share the same ability to break down difficult physical concepts into digestible pieces, and can’t wait to harness these skills with his teammates and new friends from across the world!

Previous ASI Achievements

David represented Australia at the 2024 Asian Physics Olympiad and won a Silver medal.

Australia’s International Science Olympiads programs are run by not-for-profit Australian Science Innovations.

The Australian Science Olympiad program is supported by our Major Funder, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, and our University Partner, The Australian National University.

Watch the video of the 2024 Australian Olympiad Teams Announcement here on ASI YouTube.

Learn more about Australian Science Olympiad program here.

Learn more about the 2024 International Physics Olympiad on their website

Celebrating at the 2024 Australian Olympiad Teams Announcement at Parliament House 24 June 2024, (L to R) Anna Davis, Chair of ASI Board, Maggie Webber and Kinjal Dani, Co-Deputy Program Directors Physics, with the 2024 International Physics Olympiad IPhO Australian Team, Lachlan McGinness, Program Director Physics, and Vanessa Kates, Executive Director, ASI,

For updates on the Australian team during the International Physics Olympiad, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our ASI News e-letter – links in the footer below.