Who am I? Dr Matthew Verdon
Where am I? Adelaide, SA
What’s my thing? Chemistry, physics, teaching, singing
Dr Matthew Verdon’s mother took a while to forgive him for coating her wedding ring in mercury, but his boyhood chemistry experiments soon became his ticket to travelling around the world – to the International Chemistry Olympiad in Denmark in 2000, then the Asian Physics Olympiad in Taiwan and the International Physics Olympiad in Turkey.
Not surprisingly, these experiences set the scene for a Bachelor of Science with honours in physics at the University of Sydney, and a PhD in theoretical plasma physics.
Fast-forward to 2014, and at 30-years-old Matthew is back in the classroom – as a teacher at the Australian Science and Mathematics School in Adelaide.
“I never thought I would teach full time, but I did some tutoring during uni and discovered I loved educating and explaining. So I did a masters in teaching,” Matthew says.
Maths and science are not second nature to everyone, he says, but that does not mean they have to be difficult: “They are both built on logic so I challenge my students to debate and discuss and find new ways to solve problems. I love it when students go from saying ‘I can’t do it’ to ‘wow, that’s really interesting’.”
When he is not teaching, singing, or tinkering with old electronic equipment, Matthew remains involved with the Australian Science Olympiad Competition as the physics program director.
“The olympiads were always more than just a competition to me – they let me into a community of people around the world who were passionate about the same things. It also showed me that there are many career paths in science, and the important thing is to choose one that is rewarding and interesting to you.”
Adapted from Australia’s Future – a free ebook profiling some of the brightest stars in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics