University of Bath (MEng Chemical Engineering), Exeter College (A-Levels), Dawlish Community College (Secondary School), Kenn Primary School (Primary School)
MEng Chemical Engineering, A-Levels (Maths, Chemistry, Physics, Textile Design), GCSEs
CERN (Geneva, Switzerland), University of Bath
PhD Researcher – Chemical Engineering – Sewer Systems
University of Bath
Favourite thing to do in my job: We have the power to make the world anything we want it to be!
I’m Olivia, I live in Bristol and I think about toilets more than a person probably should.
I grew up in Exeter, and loved lots of subjects at school – I ended up doing Maths and Science at College and then moved to Bath to study to become a Chemical Engineer. Whilst studying at university I discovered the wonderful world of water – how it gets to us, how it gets from our sink/toilet to somewhere else and how it magically reappears at our tap as clean water! Amazing!
Other than education, I have a lovely boyfriend who lives in Amsterdam so I get to visit him lots and I love to travel so that’s great! I also love being outside. I lived in Switzerland for two years where I fell in love with fresh air – hiking, snowboarding, swimming, camping
I try to find ways that we can use our poo to make useful things!
Did you know we all use about 750 cups of water per day!? Showering, doing the dishes, flushing the toilet, boiling your pasta – all that water then disappears into a sewer never to be worried about again! Unfortunately, that water works its way outside the village/town/city to a wastewater treatment plant where scientists make the water clean again. The awesome thing about wastewater (water from your toilet, kitchen sink, shower etc.) is that you can use it in many ways. You can make fertilisers that help grow food, energy that lets you turn on your lightbulb, and of course you can make the water clean again. My job is to find ways that we can make the most energy we can, recover the most nutrients we can (to grow food), and ensure the most water is available for people to use.
My Typical Day
Read, do some sums, read, juggle, chat, teach, read
I get to my office, fill up my coffee cup and maybe read a few papers about what cutting-edge science other people around the world have been doing.
Then I try to do some of my own research, which involves doing lots of maths to calculate how fast your wastewater flows through the sewer, how big the pipe needs to be to stop the poo overflowing back into your home, or how many lightbulbs you could power with a days worth of toilet visits.
I usually eat lunch with my friends that are also researchers in the world of water.
Sometimes I teach students in the university lab – I teach them how to get chalk out of water using a big machine.
And when I need a break I like to juggle! 🙂
What I'd do with the prize money
Organise a water cycle festival with fun activities to teach students about the invisible secrets of our water cycle.
Organize a series of workshops (or water festival) to involve school children with multiple aspects of the water cycle. Hopefully give the students and insight to the invisible processes that make water seem like such an abundant resource to us, when for many, it is a true gift. Possible workshop subjects – Fresh water: source to tap, Wastewater: drain to river, Flooding: rain and its challenges.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, Inquisitive, Adventurous
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Got to go inside the biggest, most powerful physics experiment in the world – The Large Hadron Collider at CERN
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
A series of passionate, weird and wonderful teachers
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Often for talking.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It changes everyday – today – First Aid Kit
What's your favourite food?
Brunch: Anything involving – eggs, avocado, tomato, fresh bread
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Paragliding off a Swiss Mountaintop
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To live self-sufficiently, on a tropical island, surrounded by my best friends and family.
Tell us a joke.
Why did the baker have brown hands? – He kneaded a poo!