• Olivia Halsall

OLEA Coffee Chats (2) with Olivia, STEM Mentor

Updated: Feb 11

In this 12-month series of OLEA Coffee Chats, we introduce the aspirations, study habits and hobbies of OLEA's outstanding mentors. We are excited to launch the second interview of OLEA Coffee Chats with our brilliant STEM Mentor, Olivia. 在为期 12个月的“OLEA 咖啡访谈”系列栏目中,我们将介绍OLEA 的优秀老师和励志人物的志向、习惯和爱好。千呼万唤始出来,OLEA 第二期咖啡访谈终于来啦!本期我们有幸邀请到了优秀的STEM 导师 Olivia。

February 2022 (2022 年 2 月)

Olivia, STEM Mentor 导师

What is your favourite coffee and why? 你最喜欢的咖啡是什么?为什么呢?

I do like a creamy coffee so I would have to choose a latte as my favourite coffee with maybe a dash of oat milk to give it some extra flavour. Saying that, I recently have started drinking Chai tea with an espresso in, again with oat milk, and that is a delicious combination. 我喜欢丝滑奶油多一点的咖啡,所以拿铁是我的最爱,如果再加一点燕麦奶来增加风味就更完美啦!不过最近我也开始喝印度香茶了,我会在里面加入意式浓缩咖啡和燕麦奶,这个独家配方真的绝子!

Your OLEA Masterclass has been described as “engaging”, “useful for real-life” and“brilliant” by our students. So, what are some real-life applications of probability inreal-life, and have you used any of them this week!? 学生反馈你开设的的 OLEA 大师课“非常吸引人”、“在实际生活中很实用”并且“十分精彩”,那么概率在日常生活中有什么应用呢?对于这些应用,本周你有哪些实践呢?


Firstly I’m very glad to hear that feedback as the major point of the masterclass is to bridge the gaps between science and maths to make students realise the important applications of what can sometimes be challenging content. I know I felt this way in school, especially with maths, as it’s hard to see the importance of what you are learning as there are so many topics. I’m studying for a PhD in chemistry at the moment which has a heavily synthetic aspect to it. That means that I come up with reaction processes and have to determine what conditions are best to get the products that I’m seeking. This means considering time of reaction, temperature, scale and multiple other things that will affect its success. 首先,我非常开心能收到这样的反馈,因为这节大师课主要的目的就是连接起数学和科学,让学生能够理解一些比较有难度的概念的重要应用。同学们也许和我有同感:在学校里,尤其是在数学课堂中,我们要学习那么多不同主题,有时就很难意识到学的概念有什么重要意义。我目前在读的化学 PhD项目就非常强调综合分析能力,这就意味着我需要想出反应过程,并且确定什么条件能最好地得到我想要的产物。在这一过程中,我需要考虑反应时间、温度、尺度等许多对结果有影响的因素。

On a day-to-day basis, I suppose I think about the probability I could catch COVID and I might minimize my risk… I have also started investing recently in crypto currency and that is full of risk and probability. In this OLEA Masterclass, I encourage students to think about their own interests and their own lives to give them something tangible to learn from and remember as well as course material. 每一天,我都思考我感染新冠的概率来将风险降到最低(哭)。最近,我也开始投资加密货币,可想而知这个领域同样充满了风险与概率问题。在这节 OLEA 大师课中,我鼓励学生在课程资料外,从自己的兴趣爱好和日常生活中找寻一些具体的实例来学习以加深记忆。

OLEA Masterclasses seek to divulge students in the most exciting and real-life applications of any given subject, motivating them to pursue further study. Yours is particularly unique as it bridges the gap between Maths and Physics. What do you like about STEM and how would you encourage more girls to actively pursue this area? OLEA 大师课致力于让学生了解到每个学科最令人兴奋的现实生活应用,来激发他们的兴趣,鼓励他们继续深造。你设计的大师课尤其特别,因为它在数学和科学之间架起了桥梁。我想请问是什么让你爱上了 STEM 学科?你又会如何鼓励更多女孩在这个领域探索呢?

It is great to see the percentage of women pursuing STEM subjects increasing at undergraduate level. Where I think needs a little more encouragement is the step for women in science or mathematics to continue STEM to a higher level. I am very proud to be in a position where I can inspire others  to do just that and continue to explore and research science at its most exciting point. 看到本科阶段 STEM 学科女生比例上升真的很令人欣慰,但同时我认为我们需要鼓励更多数学和科学领域的女性继续在硕士、博士阶段研究 STEM学科。我非常自豪如今我所处的位置可以激励其他人这样做,并继续探索和研究科学的最激动人心之处。

At Cambridge, I have met many inspiring females and have learned lots from them in terms of academic knowledge but also how to manage personal desires with a very successful career. I am quite a creative person but I do like studying a subject that is based on logic. The higher you get into academia and research the more creative you have to be thinking about solutions to problems so, I would say humanities subjects are a clear choice for open minded creative people but don’t overlook the possibilities of demonstrating those interests in STEM if you find the subjects enjoyable at school or undergraduate level. 我在剑桥遇见了许多启迪人心的成功女性,不管是学术知识还是兼顾个人生活和事业成功的经验方面,我都从她们身上学到了许多。我是一个颇具创造力的人,但我的确更喜欢学一个基于逻辑的学科。而当你在学术界和研究领域走得越远,你越需要提出有创造性的解决方案。在我看来,对于思想开放有创造力的人,虽然人文学科是很好的一个选择,但如果你在中学和本科阶段对 STEM 学科很感兴趣,也不要忽视在这些领域展现创造力的会!

I have to commend your ability to juggle so many interests including (but not limited to): Your PhD; a start-up for which you have secured funding; representing the North of England in hockey; being bilingual in English and Spanish. How do you manage your time so well?  What advice would you give to teenagers struggling to balance so many academic subjects alongside their hobbies? 我必须说,你真的称得上是时间管理大师了。你的兴趣爱好如此广泛(包括但不限于):你的博士学业、已经得到投资的创业项目、代表北英格兰参加曲棍球比赛、英语西班牙语双语人才。你是如何如此高效管理时间的呢?对于我们被学业和兴趣活动压得喘不动气的小同学们你会给什么建议呢?

Firstly, I would say that I played a lot of sports in school and as I advanced through university that has majorly decreased year upon year. I do try to keep myself fit though with the gym and yoga but other priorities have now taken over like my start-up. Languages have also taken a back seat but I did do Spanish at A-Level and continued that until about a year ago so my level is still quite high. Languages take lots of time so I would say it’s best to spread them over a few years. 首先,我在初高中时确实参加了特别多体育项目,但升入大学后,分给体育的时间也逐年下降了。我依然努力挤时间去健身房、做瑜伽来保持身材,但现在重心已经移到了其他方面,比如我的创业项目。同样,学外语也退居次位,不过因为我在高中考了A-Level 西语,并直到一年前也在继续学习,所以现在西语水平依然很不错。我推荐同学把学语言的时间均摊在几年内,因为掌握一门外语要花大量的时间,不可急于求成。


I would say, for those with multiple interests - do as many as you can and do what you enjoy and if you don’t enjoy it - just don’t do it. Have a list of priorities and know what to drop first if you do become stressed meaning you need to work or revise at certain times. I have always felt that the more I do, the better at time management I have become but time management is nothing without purpose so it’s the classic Parkinson’s rule i.e. the task fills the time you allocate to it. 同时,我想告诉兴趣爱好广泛的同学们,尽可能多地去做你喜欢的事情吧!如果你不 喜欢了,那就别做了,很简单。将事情按轻重缓急列个清单,要自己心里有数:如果 某个时间因为需要学习或者复习压力大了,哪些兴趣爱好是可以最先放弃的。我常常感觉我忙的事情越多,我的时间管理就做的越好。但要记住:没有目的的时间管理是无效的。经典的帕金森定律已经向我们揭示:任务会将你分配的所有时间都填满。

My advice for time management is to allot a time and add maybe 10% extra to everything you want to do in your day or week to give yourself a buffer if things start to go wrong. Flexibility is definitely key and I never put an email off or a task if I have time there and then to do it. 我对时间管理的建议是,在安排你一天或者一周的任务时,给每件事分配的时间上增加 10%,这样万一有什么出错了你还可以有缓冲时间。一定的灵活性是很关键的。而且如果我当下有时间发完邮件或者做完一件事的话,我绝不会拖到之后再去做。

You have an impressive academic record boasting a 1st Class Master’s in Chemistry from the University of St Andrews, and now you are a PhD Chemistry candidate at the University of Cambridge. What is it about Chemistry that you find most interesting, and do you have any book recommendations for budding young Chemists who are interested in STEM at Oxbridge? Can you recommend any museums / resources they might find particularly inspiring? 你有闪光的学术履历,拥有圣安德鲁斯大学化学一等硕士学位,现在是剑桥大学的化学博士生。关于化学你觉得最有趣的是什么?对于那些对牛津剑桥的 STEM学科感兴趣的年轻化学家,你有什么书籍推荐吗?你能推荐一些可能会启发到他们的博物馆/其他资源吗?

This is a tricky question for me in a way because I am dyslexic and struggle reading lots of books. I do prefer compact notes, videos and slides as they help me learn best so, following that thought I would recommend YouTube accounts like Periodic Videos and Sixty Symbols for engaging content at GCSE and A-Level. Textbooks are generally hefty pieces of writing but very useful for certain topics. I would say a list of group leaders and following their publications is a good idea as students start to get to undergraduate level though. If I were to recommend any books it would be the Nobel Lecture Series. Each book covers a few years and has the Nobel lectures from each of the winners inside. 这对我来说是个棘手的问题,因为我有阅读障碍,读大量书籍很费劲。我更喜欢紧凑的笔记、视频和幻灯片,因为它们对我的学习帮助最大。因此,我会向 GCSE 和 A-Level 阶段的同学们推荐寓教于乐的 YouTube 频道,如 Periodic Videos 和 SixtySymbols。教科书一般又大又厚,但对某些主题非常有用。我觉得当学生开始进入本科阶段,列一个学者名单并持续关注他们的发表是一个好主意。如果一定要我推荐什么书,那就是诺贝尔讲座系列。每本书涵盖了几年的时间内每个诺奖得主的演讲。这绝对是了解科学前沿的一个好方法。

It’s definitely a great way to see and understand the forefront of science! Museums are brilliant! Go to the Science Museum in London; as you start to develop certain interests like me with materials and minerals, you then get to know places like the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences here in Cambridge where there are many interesting pieces. 博物馆是无与伦比的!必去的是伦敦的科学博物馆;当你开始像我一样对材料和矿物产生兴趣时,你就会了解像剑桥的塞奇威克地球科



What has your experience at Cambridge been like as a postgraduate student? What has been the most memorable: the people, social life, place, university resources, professional success, sports? What key pieces of advice would you give to younger students about applying to Cambridge for sciences? 在剑桥作为一名博士生的生活是怎样的呢?有没有什么令你难忘的经历,比如说这里的朋友、社交生活、有趣的地方、大学资源、职业成就、体育运动等。对于想要申请剑桥理科的同学们你会有什么宝贵的建议呢?

Cambridge life is fabulous and super supportive. As a postgraduate student, I feel you do have more independence and a lot more vision which is always helpful when navigating friendships, academics or a new city. I am at St John’s College which has hosted events throughout the pandemic which has maintained my social life well! In terms of sports, there are college and university level sports teams and depending on your skillset and or time; I have briefly been a part of each level for cycling, hockey, clay pigeon and a few others and have had the best time! 剑桥的生活美妙无比,而且会收到许多帮助。作为一名博士生,我感觉到了更高的独立性和更广阔的视野,这让我在交朋友、做学术或适应一个新的城市时游刃有余。我所在的圣约翰学院在整个疫情期间举办了各种活动,满足了我的社交需求。在运动方面,取决于你的能力和时间,可以选择参加院队或者校队。我曾短暂地参加过自行车、曲棍球、飞碟射击和其他一些运动,度过了非常美好的时光。

I would say you have to read around the subject and don’t be tempted just to learn the content from the course. They look for adaptability of thinking and they will bring you out of your comfort zone in interviews so talking through the reasoning and your approach is always a good idea but you have to know what other wider concepts are out there to back up your ideas. A strong knowledge base, with good extracurriculars and a solid interest will stand you in good stead for applying. Always apply even if you think you won’t get in because you may be surprised! 我认为你必须针对这个学科做拓展阅读,不要只想着学习课程中的内容。大学看重的是思维的适应能力,招生官会在面试中把你带出你的舒适区,所以大声讲出来你的推理过程和方法是一个好方法,但你还必须知道哪些更广泛的概念能支持你的想法。扎实的知识基础,良好的课外活动经历和对学科坚定的热爱,将使你在申请时脱颖而出。即使你认为机会渺茫的时候,也一定要申请,因为最后结果可能出乎意料!

- Interview by Olivia Halsall

- Translation by Jiaqi Shang

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