2021 International Earth Science Olympiad Team

Meet the 2021 International Earth Science Olympiad Team!


Alexandra Vickery

After participating in the 2019 Australian Science Olympiads, Alexandra Vickery is back for more. “I already loved science and the Olympiads allowed me to explore parts of it we didn’t cover at school,” she says. She has again been selected for the Australian Earth Science team, competing alongside seven other talented students.

Alexandra doesn’t study Earth Science at school, so she found the Olympiads Summer School quite challenging as there was lots for her to learn. “The mentors certainly helped me through the process, though it also wasn’t easy,” she says.

But she did enjoy talking with others who were just as passionate as her about science. “It was cool to hear the mentors talk about their subject areas in detail and work through problems with the other students,” she says.

One of Alexandra’s many role models is Henrietta Swan Leavitt, the astronomer who developed the first standard candle to calculate distances further than our galaxy. “Like so many other skilled scientists, she was able to revolutionise our understanding of her field despite setbacks from society’s treatment of women and her illness,” she says. “Her dedication and analytical skills are inspiring.”

In her spare time, she plays the clarinet and basketball and is a member of her school’s gaming group. She also studies astronomy as part of the Science Mentors ACT program, completing research at Mt. Stromlo.

She isn’t entirely sure what she wants to do in the future, but is considering a career in scientific research. “There are so many questions out there still to be asked, let alone answered!” she says.

Hayden Greer

Hayden Greer saw the Australian Science Olympiads program as a challenge and an opportunity to work with other students who love science as much as he does. Now, after making it through tough rounds of selection and outperforming thousands of others, he has earned himself a place as one of eight brilliant young minds on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team.

Hayden really enjoyed the Earth Science Summer School. He particularly appreciated the virtual and in-person field trips as well as the geology practicals. “The nightly presentations from guest speakers in fields ranging from fossil dating to planetary science (including NASA researchers) were a highlight,” he says.

In his STEM pursuit, he looks up to David Attenborough. “His passion for protecting the environment and his outstanding communication skills are truly inspiring,” he says.

In his spare time, Hayden enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and playing the violin. At school, he is on the Senior A debating team, helps run the Astronomy club and participates in robotics activities.

He hopes to enter a career that combines astrophysics, engineering and Earth science.

Jonathan Purcell

After completing a geoscience elective in Year 10, Jonathan Purcell decided to sit the Earth Science Olympiad Exam. “When I scored well on this exam, I was excited to attend the virtual Summer School as an opportunity to learn more,” he says. He has now earned a place as one of eight talented students on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team.

Although he found the online delivery of the Summer School challenging, as there is only so much you can learn about Earth science via PowerPoint presentations and 3D models, he enjoyed examining features of his local area and listening to the guest speakers. “Most were very engaging and captivating,” he says.

In his spare time, he is a student school councillor, cooks plant-based recipes and explores the outdoors. He is also enrolled in the University of Melbourne’s mathematics Year 12 extension program and affiliated with various school extracurriculars, including the gardening club and the Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars program.

While he doesn’t have a specific role model, he looks up to anyone who does their best to be kind and help others. “I try to take on the traits I admire in everyone around me,” he says.

Jonathan used to want to be a judge, but now aspires to be a secondary maths or science teacher. “I think that I would also be a good addition to VCAA exam-writing panels in the future,” he says.

Olivia Anderson

Olivia Anderson decided to take part in the Australian Science Olympiads program when the entrance exams piqued her interest. “I didn’t know much about the program, but I was happy to do some afternoons of problem solving anyway,” she says. Today, she has earned a place as one of eight talented students on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team.

“Each time I was given the chance to move through to the next stage, I chose to participate in them because, really, how often do you get the chance to represent Australia?” she says. “And in something that gives you so many pieces of rock trivia? I’m not going to turn that down.”

Although she’s found fitting in time to study for the program difficult, Olivia has really enjoyed her Olympiad experience. “One day we were taught about the formation of the solar system, the next we discussed sand dunes on Mars,” she says. “There were so many ‘aah, that’s how it works’ moments in such a short time, and the guest speakers were really interesting.”

Olivia looks up to many people for how hard working, kind and funny they are. “If I had to choose one role model, though, I’d probably go with my dog, Sammy,” she says. “No one can beat her on optimism.”

She’s keeping her career options open but hopes to end up in a job that allows her to solve complex problems.

In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and reading books.

Ryan Liu

Seeking a challenge and an opportunity to develop his scientific skills, Ryan Liu took part in the Australian Science Olympiads. Now, he has earned himself a place as one of eight young talents on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team.

“My favourite aspect of the Australian Science Olympiads is the ability to meet other like-minded students all across Australia and talk to them about the scientific topics that they are the most passionate about,” he says. “I really appreciated the myriads of guest speakers that we were exposed to in the Summer School and through those talks, my horizons were broadened to the wide variety of roles that scientists can play in society.”

So far, he has found the online aspect of the Earth Science Olympiads program challenging because it is a very hands-on discipline. “This is, however, still an important and necessary opportunity that reflects the changing situations in the world as well as being a potential future development in the way that many scientists will have to work,” he says.

In the future, Ryan is interested in pursuing a career in either Earth and Environmental Science or Medicine. In his STEM pursuit, he looks up to John Snow, who he admires for his application of the scientific method to solve real world problems and use of visuals to present his findings in an easy to interpret way.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading and playing video games. He also volunteers as an adjudicator for Debating South Australia.

Sharlyn Tan

Sharlyn Tan decided to take part in the Australian Science Olympiads program to expand her knowledge of science. After making it through tough rounds of selection and outperforming thousands of other students, she has earned a place as one of eight young talents on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team.

Her Olympiad training, including her time at Summer School, opened her eyes to the vastness of science and helped her form new bonds with others. “The best part about the Australian Science Olympiad program is the opportunity to meet new friends with similar interests in science,” she says. “It has challenged me to broaden my knowledge of science in general.”

She spends most of her spare time on her school’s extracurricular activities, such as debating, participating in the science club and volunteering for social justice clubs like Interact, Amnesty and UNICEF. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano and reading novels.

Sharlyn is motivated by her peers to continue pursuing her interests in science. Having a love for applying theoretical concepts to the real world, she aspires to be a doctor or work in a medical research field.

Anna Kremer

Having a love for problem solving and science, Anna Kremer was drawn to the challenging nature of the Australian Science Olympiad program. Now, she has earned a place as one of eight talented students on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team.

She has thoroughly enjoyed her Olympiad experience so far and looks forward to the next stage of her journey. “I love that the program gives you an academic goal to work towards outside of school and provides you support and resources to achieve it independently,” she says. “I found it challenging to always stay motivated when things were tough … but keeping my ultimate goal in mind kept me inspired.”

In her STEM pursuit, Anna looks up to Lise Meitner, a physicist who helped discover nuclear fission and the element protactinium. “I’m fascinated by the type of science she made great discoveries in and am inspired by the way in which she overcame challenges in her life,” she says.

Anna is an avid and talented debater. In early 2021, her team won Sydney’s Eastside Debating Competition and she was named best speaker of the New South Wales Debating Union Online Open. She has also debated in university novice competitions.

Outside of school, she plays the oboe as part of the Sydney Youth Orchestra program and participates in other Australian problem-solving competitions, like the computational and linguistics Olympiad OzCLO.

She is keeping her career options open, but currently hopes to enter a STEM profession.

Frances Kan

After participating in the Australian Science Olympiads in 2019, Frances Kan is back for more. She sees the program as a chance to deepen her knowledge of Earth’s systems. “It presents students with an unrivalled opportunity to challenge themselves by going beyond the syllabus,” she says.

She has again earned a place as one of eight talented students on the 2021 Australian Earth Science Olympiad team. She finds the program’s emphasis on the applications of science very engaging.

Frances has always loved the practical aspects of science. As the Summer School was held virtually this year, she found remote learning for practical activities to be more challenging. “Despite this, I think that our Program Directors and Tutors did an incredible job overcoming this by making content more accessible and encouraging hands-on learning wherever possible,” she says.

Her greatest role model is Rosalind Franklin, who she admires for her significant contribution to genomics research and persevering through the struggles of navigating what was considered a non-traditional field for women in her time. Although unsure of where her career will take her, she would love to one day work in the medical field as a researcher or physician.

Frances is passionate about the environment and runs a school club that promotes sustainable choices and raises awareness of environmental issues. She also loves sharing her passions with those around her and teaches her younger peers about the wonders of Earth Science.

Science aside, she enjoys reading, ballet, playing the piano, hiking and volunteering as a St John Ambulance Cadet.