Daniel Gilbourd – 2000 IBO

  • Daniel Gilbourd – 2000 IBO image

Daniel Gilbourd was born in Lviv in the former USSR and moved to Sydney when he was nine years old. He started learning about science from his great aunt, who was researching crop yields.

“I remember her explaining to me that leaves were green because of chlorophyll, and why they changed colours in autumn,” he says.

One day in high school, Daniel fractured his arm from a nasty bike accident and was forced to stay home for a few weeks. When he got bored of playing video games, he decided to read the Campbell’s Biology textbook.

“I was told if I did it could lead to a free trip overseas,” he says. “So, about a year later I sat the selection exam.” Soon after, he qualified for the 2000 International Biology Olympiad in Antalya, Turkey.

Daniel’s fondest memory of his time at the Olympiads was on the bus to the International competition. “Various teams were encouraged to sing their national anthem,” he says. “We felt the Aussie anthem didn’t suit the occasion and sang the Prisoner of Society by The Living End instead.”

After high school, he studied medicine and completed surgical training. “I ended up working throughout coastal NSW, moved about 22 times and made many friends along the way,” he says. He is now a practicing urologist.

During his time as a surgeon, Daniel has faced many difficult situations, but bounces back every time. “When there’s an adverse outcome, even a very predictable one where you probably weren’t a factor, it hurts and you remember it for years,” he says. “You have to remember when you are doubting yourself that those many forgotten wins overwhelm the hopefully not so many adverse outcomes.”

After a particularly intense week of work, he had to head to Canberra for a teaching weekend. “Exhausted and probably quite unsafe I drove down to Canberra and arrived well after midnight,” he says.

On the Saturday evening, he went out with all the other trainees. “One of them had organized a ski trip with a friend and I volunteered to be the driver,” he says. “I later married this friend, and we now have a kiddie.”

Daniel encourages all students to keep their heavy textbooks, as they may come in handy later in life. “My 9-month-old has a push trolley that he is learning to walk on,” he says. “It’s too fast for his coordination at this stage, so we have loaded my Campbell’s into it to slow him down.”

He would like to remind students completing the Olympiads qualifying exams to enjoy the ride and their ability to absorb lots of information.


Published on 7 February, 2023