Seven super science students start at Sydney University

19 May 2008

Seven super students who scored a UAI of 100 in their Higher School Certificate have enrolled in the University of Sydney's combined science and medicine degree, starting in March.

The seven super science students (left to right): Chao Wang, Pok Wong, Ronald Fung, Karen Lee, Kin Lam, Joshua Lau and Alex Stoyanov.
The seven super science students (left to right): Chao Wang, Pok Wong, Ronald Fung, Karen Lee, Kin Lam, Joshua Lau and Alex Stoyanov.

The super science students come from a mix of state and private high schools: Kin Lam, Alex Stoyanov, Joshua Lau and Karen Lee all attended James Ruse Agricultural High School; Ronald Fung attended Sydney Grammar School; Pok Wong attended Sydney Technical High School; and Chao Wang attended Shore - Sydney Church of England Grammar School.

All seven hope to become doctors, with some hoping to also be involved in scientific research at some point in their careers.

Kin Lam said, "I hope to have a career as a practising medical specialist and/or be involved in medical research. I am interested in medical research areas involving chemistry and mathematics, but it's too early to really decide on a focus since my interests change all the time."

Pok Wong has similar ambitions: "I am hoping for a career in medical research, as well as clinical practice as a doctor. I am currently considering many pathways, but I hope to work at the intersection of science and medicine allowing me to cross-pollinate the two and ultimately give the best patient care."

Joshua Lau said, "In the future, I hope to be a doctor and possibly specialise in a certain area, although at the moment I am uncertain which area that will be. Through the course of my studies at the University of Sydney, I'll investigate different specialisations and become interested in the area which will lead to my future career."

Choosing to study in the combined science and medicine degree at the University of Sydney, the super seven will first complete their undergraduate science degrees, then continue on to the prestigious four year graduate medical program.

Six of the students have chosen the Bachelor of Science (Advanced) degree, and Karen has chosen the Bachelor of Medical Science degree. This unique combined degree program, which allows students to gain a strong foundation in the sciences before moving onto medicine, has been offered since 2005.

Alex was attracted by the flexibility of the combined degree: "The main reason why I chose science at the University of Sydney was the availability of the combined science and medicine degree. Even though I had my heart set on studying medicine, I also wanted to continue my interest and study in science and this degree allows me to do both. I also feel that the science degrees offered at the University of Sydney are the most flexible in terms of subject choices and majors and the chance of pursing science further through the Talented Student Program."

Ronald said, "I've heard lots of great things about the Science Faculty at the University of Sydney from family, friends and teachers. These include the breadth of subject choice, the Talented Student Program and mentoring program, and the opportunity to participate in a research team."

Chao said, "I was drawn by the University of Sydney's reputation for high standards and professionalism. As I had to combine postgraduate medicine with another degree as part of the combined course, I felt that science was the degree that best suited both my own long-time interest in science related subjects, as well as my subsequent medical degree."

Karen chose this program "because medical science will be a good foundation for studying medicine, and studying the four sciences in first year - Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology - will give me a more rounded knowledge of science."

Having all studied Mathematics and Chemistry for their HSC, plus most having studied other HSC science subjects Physics, Biology or Agriculture, the seven are well equipped to tackle their advanced science studies this year.

Inspiration to pursue their science studies came from many sources including participation in the Australian Science Olympiads, excursions to laboratories and school visits from scientists.

Ronald said, "An interesting science experience for me was when Professor Bryan Gaensler, who is an ex-student of Sydney Grammar and now works at the University of Sydney, gave us a talk on astronomy in science class in Year 7."

To students still in high school considering studying science, Joshua had the following advice: "I think it is important to enter a science area which you enjoy, as high school can provide a reasonable background for science study later on. On entering uni, I think it's also necessary to consider your future career prospects and choose a science course based on that."

Alex said, "The best advice I can give is to actively get involved in science as much as possible. If you are interested in science, do the HSC science subjects and get involved in the Olympiads and science competitions. Also, try to learn from first principles and fundamentals, rather than just memorising information - this will make studying science a lot more interesting."

Karen said, "Read from a wide range of sources while studying and choose the science subjects that you are most interested in."

Ronald said, "They should definitely go for it! I expect that studying science at uni will be different to high school in terms of the level of detail required and the style of teaching, but I think that there'll also be much more flexibility and freedom to pursue your specific interests. So anyone interested in studying science at uni should give it serious thought."

Pok said, "Regardless of the career pathway you wish to pursue, science will always be a major influence as it fosters leadership, cooperation, critical scrutiny of new ideas and the process of setting out objectives. Saying 'science is important' is simply an understatement!"

Chao said, "Pursue what interests you, and do not let short-term difficulties put you off from the potential of long-term fulfillment. Remember that in addition to scientific knowledge, the study of science also gives the student a scientific mind and method of thought which have benefits that are often overlooked."

Kin was succinct, "If you like science, do it!"