Mike Molinari – 1998 IChO
Dr Mike Molinari grew up in the small town of Katanning in Western Australia, where he formed a passion for using science and technology to make a difference in the world.
“My earliest memory of science was, embarrassingly, telling my mum that I knew where she could find a periodic table – thinking that she was talking about our camping table in the shed!” he says. “I’ve since learnt a bit more about chemistry.”
Mike wanted to take on the challenge of the Olympiads because he enjoyed learning about science and how the world works. “The ASO program gave me the opportunity to learn more and really challenge myself,” he says. “Plus, there was the incentive of a trip to Canberra for the training camp, and then to the IChO itself.”
Mike excelled in the qualifying exams and secured a place on the Australian team competing at the 1998 International Chemistry Olympiad in Melbourne.
Although he didn’t get to travel overseas, he loved introducing people from so many countries to the life in Australia. “At the same time, it meant that the country guides were undergrads from Melbourne Uni, who introduced us to the local nightlife,” he says.
After school, he went on exchange for a year to Argentina and completed a combined degree in Chemical Engineering and Science at the University of Melbourne. He then spent some time as a management consultant, before going on to do a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Oxford.
Today, Mike is the Managing Director of IP Group Australia. “I get to work with great researchers and to turn their discoveries into products and companies that will change the world,” he says.
An ongoing achievement of his is balancing work with family life, as he has a very demanding job. “That said, the silver medal at the IChO would come close!” he says.
Mike highly recommends the Olympiads to any student interested in science because it’s “a great experience to have, to really push yourself beyond what you will learn in your school curriculum.” He believes it’s not about the result, but the journey and getting exposure to new ideas.
Overall, he recognises that the Olympiads was “a fantastic program for me and for many others.”
He also encourages interested high school students to pursue careers in STEM because “the skills that you will develop will be relevant to all aspects of your life.”
In his personal life, Mike is passionate about making sure that his kids have the same opportunities as him to explore their interests and develop their own passions.