Angus Olding


Spontaneously Combustible

I'm from: Hobart
Current Location: Hobart
Position: PhD Student, School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania
Field of research/work: Chemistry
YTS Years: 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

Angus's Notable career moments

  • Deliberately set fire to my maths books.

  • Great grade 12 chemistry teacher.

  • Accidentally set fire to my research (this still happens in 2023).

  • Made a molecule that has never existed before.

  • Submitted a paper to Science, the prestigious academic journal.

  • My paper was rejected by Science, the prestigious academic journal.

  • I published my first paper (not in the prestigious academic journal, Science).

About Angus Olding

I want a job where I set fire to things on a regular basis. I want to make funny smells, funky colours and beautiful crystals. That’s why I do chemistry .

Chemistry has a reputation as being really complicated and hard, but I don’t think that’s true. Instead of doing mind-bending maths or looking at slime down a microscope, my job is to throw things in a flask and see what happens. If it goes purple, then I have to figure out why. If nothing happens, I still have to figure out why. That’s part of what makes it exciting. The other part is the chemicals I use; some catch fire when you open the bottle.

My type of chemistry is called synthesis, which means “making stuff”. I try to build molecules just like you build a LEGO set; I put small, simple pieces together to make something larger and more complicated. Just like with LEGO, you don’t have to follow the instructions. With about a hundred different pieces (the elements), the possibilities are infinite.

Science was always the most fun subject for me. In grade 12, I had a wicked chemistry teacher, and that was all I needed to get me started. I found YouTube videos of people doing chemistry with stuff you could buy from the supermarket, so I gave that a go. I launched my first rocket at the end of grade 12, and I’ve been hooked on chemistry ever since.

Watch Angus's videos

Angus's Photo Gallery