When Olivia Lindsay was 15 years old, she watched a dear friend undergo invasive surgery and an intense recovery and healing process that changed the course of his life.
Now, the 17-year-old Immanuel Lutheran College student is gearing up for the trip of a lifetime and the opportunity to bring her thoughts on reducing the need for invasive surgery to the global science community.
Olivia, a Buderim resident, is one of just four Queenslanders to be endorsed by the National Youth Science Forum in Canberra to go to the International Youth Science Forum in London, July 26 to August 9.
Around 2000 applications were received for the NYSF, of which only 200 applicants were successful.
From there, only the best of the best are chosen to attend the international forum, which only accepts 500 young people from around the world each year.
What makes Olivia’s success even more amazing is that she missed the deadline to apply for the NYSF, but pulled out all stops to ensure she could still apply to be considered for the London trip.
The school captain, who wants to go on to study medicine at either the University of Queensland or the University of the Sunshine Coast after graduation, says she is still pinching herself that her determination has paid off and she made it in.
“I see this forum as the culmination of all things science and the place to go if you have big scientist dreams. I believe the medical field hasn’t ventured far enough into looking at ways to reduce the need for invasive surgery,” she says.
“After seeing what my friend went through, the effects of such surgery and how much the recovery takes out of your life, especially if you love sports and can’t do other things that you love anymore, I believe more can be done and I look forward to kick-starting this at the forum.”
The year 12 student will leave on July 23 to spend a month in Europe visiting renowned locations like Oxford University, Rolls Royce, the Cambridge University Hospital, the Imperial College’s centre for regenerative medicine, the CERN Hadron Collider in Switzerland and France’s Cite des Sciences, as well as hear from prominent researchers and scientists who are leaders in their fields.
“It’s getting really exciting now. I am looking forward to meeting new people, forming networks and bouncing ideas off other people,” she says.
Olivia will be in fine company, with the international forum attracting the interest and support of leading figures in the world of science and politics over its 59 years. These include Nobel Laureates in Sir John Cockroft, Sir Lawrence Bragg, Sir Joseph Rotblat and Lord Porter and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who paid two visits to the science forum.
But the experience of a lifetime does not come cheap. The program costs $11,000 and Olivia says she has received support from the Rotary and Lions clubs as well as from her school community.
She has set up a GoFundMe page for the community to support her journey and allow her to access some of the optional extras like going to a show in West End, visiting Stonehenge and Buckingham Palace.