Olivia Ashton

Favourite Thing: Being in the lab making new materials, solving problems and trying new experiments.



Swanshurst School (’04-’09), King Edwards Camp Hill School for Girls (’09-’11), Imperial College London (’11-’15), University of Oxford (’15-present)


GCSEs, A-levels (A*, A, A), MSci with Honors in Chemistry, working towards a DPhil in Physics

Work History:

Clarks, Atkins Global, National University of Singapore

Current Job:

Graduate Student reading New and Sustainable Photovoltaics


University of Oxford supervised by Prof Henry Snaith, with the Centre for Doctoral Training in New and Sustainable Photovoltaics

About Me

Graduate student at Oxford who loves science, books and people.

I live in Oxford with two friends. I am a Social Secretary for my college so organise fun events for other students. I am a scuba diver. I love the sea and swimming with fish. My favorite author is Margaret Atwood. I enjoy baking, reading and travelling.

My Work

Find materials to save the world from global warming

I work on materials that can be applied in photovoltaics (read: solar panels) and optoelectronics (read: LEDs). The aim with these materials is to produce technologies that are far more efficient, non-toxic and sustainable than what the world currently uses. Eventually these technologies would be able to compete with existing energy sources and provide a cleaner, greener way to get electricity.

My Typical Day

Run, breakfast, lab, lunch, lab, analysis, dinner, fun.

I like to get in early to make the most of my day. I tend to go into the lab to pick up where I left off the day before, or get my samples ready for any testing for that day. Then I go about my experimental work, be that making new solutions, doing some spectroscopy, or refining an older process. There is always some admin-based activities to do – emails, lab cleaning, meetings, demonstrating. All time around these things is spent researching my materials. With ample breaks for cups of tea and food!

What I'd do with the money

Inspire children to get involved in science where they wouldnt normally of.

I’m a big believer in opportunities for all, regardless of socio-economic background. I would love to be able to go to schools that are less fortunate in their science departments and whose pupils don’t pursue sciences at higher levels, especially girls. I think it is important to demonstrate the broad range that science at school can lead on to, through a variety of interactive experiments. Although these would take a more basic form, they would relate back to bigger problems that scientists are dealing with – climate change, cures for diseases, conservation work etc.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Taylor Swift or Maroon 5

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Scuba diving! Especially with a Manta Ray and sharks

What did you want to be after you left school?

After I left primary school a Marine Biologist, after secondary/sixth form I had no idea

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Not really, only minor offences for breaking the dress code or running in a corridor now and again

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?


What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

My chemistry A Level teacher

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

A writer or a scuba diver

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

More time, better at sport and the interactive wardrobe from Clueless.

Tell us a joke.

Don’t trust atoms, they make up everything.

Other stuff

Work photos:

Nanocrystal Synthesis Lab


A glovebox where we store our air sensitive materials


The cleanroom where we make our devices



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