All Stories

#OdySci Profile Day 6: Olivia Li

As part of Science Odyssey, we are interviewing a variety of STEM innovators to investigate pathways into STEM and to discuss the future of STEM learning and careers.

Olivia is currently a grade 12 student studying in Surrey, British Columbia. She researches the electron transfer capabilities of special types of bacteria called electrotrophs, and has been invited to present her research on the international stage in Taiwan, Tunisia, and China. In the future, she hopes to use science to become a social entrepreneur and make positive change in her community. When Olivia isn’t caring for her bacteria or unsuccessfully learning how to parallel park, she spends her free time composing original music, baking sweet pastries, and playing a few competitive games of ultimate frisbee.

What sparked your interest science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM)?

I was quite the pyromaniac growing up. I wanted to make the most explosive smoke bombs, the biggest rockets, and the brightest fires. My obsession with fire and my FLAMING desire to make bigger, better fires, definitely SPARKED my interest in all things STEM. Hours were spent experimenting with chemicals, — which I hid from view to evade my parent’s FIERY temper — and days were spent researching the best methods to make backyard rocket fuel. All in all, despite the numerous burns and scars, it was worth it. I’m now an avid scientist who has a BURNING love for science that just can’t be EXTINGUISHED.

Describe the most interesting STEM project you’ve taken part in.

My love for STEM spawned from an unexpected place: parenthood. Some say it takes determination, innovation, and tears, and being the proud mother of over ten-million adorable microbes, I can wholeheartedly agree. In my basement, I’ve designed a growing hub. Millions of bacteria flourish so I can investigate their special electrical properties. Despite, giving them the best I can offer, frustrating, albeit interesting, questions still arise. Why did half of my children die over the course of two nights? Why did one child mutate and eat all the others? With perplexing puzzles like these, every day with them is an adventure.

How can Science World help students learn about STEM careers?

When I was little, Science World used to be my favourite places to be. The Keva building blocks showed me how awesome being an architect would be; the Body Works gallery showed me how interesting being a doctor would be; and the shows at Centre Stage showed me how great being science educator would be. Science world is all about exploring. It opened my eyes to possibilities in the STEM field that I would never have considered before. I mean, after looking at the dinosaur feature exhibit, who wouldn’t want to be a paleontologist?

What are your 3 favourite science facts?

  1. Chickens have an internal body temperature of around 41°C (That’s 4°C higher than us!)
  2. Space smells like burned steak
  3. Potatoes have two more chromosomes than humans

Future Science Leaders is a Science World teen program designed for students to further develop the talent, drive, and discipline needed to excel in scientific research and innovations. In weekly meetings, students learn essential skills, meet top experts and innovators and apply their new knowledge and skills.

It’s Youth Innovation Day at the #BCTECH Summit! Come by the Science World booth for hands-on activities and mentorship opportunities! Or join us for the #BCTECH Summit After Party tonight! Investigate more at home or school with the Scratch Programming Series: Input and Interaction from Science World Resources.