Science and law is still regarded as a somewhat unusual combination, but for Ben Kremer it has worked remarkably well.
Ben represented Australia in 1990 at the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in Paris, where he was awarded a bronze medal. Since then he has gone onto successfully pursue his twin passions of science and law – he is now working as a barrister in Sydney.
“Scientific literacy is a very valuable skill to have in the law, as it is, unfortunately, quite rare,” says Ben, “but it also strengthens skills such as numeracy, logic and rigorous, disciplined thinking.”
Prior to undertaking a doctoral degree in law at Oxford in the UK, Ben completed a double degree in science/law at the University of Sydney, with honours in chemistry. He was awarded two University Medals: one in organic chemistry, the other in law.
The Australian Science Olympiad program encouraged Ben to keep an open mind about the careers studying science could lead to, whilst also providing an arena for academic extension and competition.
At the 22nd IChO competitors were presented with their medals at the Sorbonne, but this was just one highlight of Ben’s experience: “On the eve of Bastille Day 1990, all IChO participants were taken out on open boats (Bateaux Mouches) on the Seine to watch Jean Michel Jarre perform a live show from La Defense. It had all of Paris watching and set the Guinness world record for largest live performance!”
Add this to a chemistry team training camp in Heidelberg, leading the Australian team at the 1995 IChO in Beijing, and gaining foundation knowledge in everything from stoichiometry to quantum mechanics, it is clear to Ben that the Olympiads validated his interest in science.
“I would definitely recommend that school and uni students do not focus too narrowly from the start; `non-scientists’ should take science units that they have an interest in, and vice versa.”
Ben remains a practised computer programmer and up-to-date with developments across many scientific disciplines. “Practising as a barrister in particular throws up lots of novel situations where a science background is invaluable and where you can enjoy the science itself.”