I've been learning music since I was very young. I started with the Keyboard, performing in my first concert at the age of three! Soon after, I progressed to learning Piano, Violin and Recorder. When I was ten, I took up the French Horn, which is now my main instrument. I love learning new instruments, and have spent some time playing guitar, ukulele, trumpet, theremin and even a Peruvian flute!
I was a member of the National Children's Orchestra (of Great Britain) for three years, and I thoroughly loved every minute of it! NCO certainly is responsible for a lot of my current passion for music.
While I perform in many orchestras, concerts and productions in and around Cambridge, my main orchestra is the Cambridge University Symphony Orchestra (CUSO). I've been in CUSO since 2008, and have held the positions of Publicity Officer (2011–2013), President (2013–2015), Webmaster (2013–present) and Junior Treasurer (2014–2017). In 2015, I was even able to organise CUSO's 25th Anniversary concert, a resounding success, in which we performed Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
I'm a keen composer, having written and performed many of my own works. I love writing out music from various films and TV shows, some of which is on the Sheet Music page.
Maths & Science
As a kid, I always loved taking things apart to see how they worked. One thing that particularly fascinated me was a buzzer—I found how it produced a sound absolutely ingenious! This led to a love of engineering, physics and other sciences. When I was 11, and just coming to the end of primary school, I was shown my first mathematical proof by my maths teacher at the time. It was a geometrical argument to show a result known as Apollonius' theorem. I found it incredible that such simple ideas could be logically structured in such a way to build up such complex statements. From then on, I had a strong passion for mathematics, driven by this wonderful idea of mathematical proof.
I used to participate in the UK Mathematical Challenges and Olympiads that took place annually, and when I was 16 I made it through the British Mathematical Olympiad to become one of the top eight students nationally. That year I was a reserve for the UK Maths Squad in the International Mathematical Olympiad.
When I was 18, I applied to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read Mathematics, and started my studies there in 2008. I remember that I was taken aback by the sheer volume of maths I suddenly became aware of—when I was doing my A Levels, I had trouble imagining how much other maths there could be—and loved the variety of ideas that we were exposed to, even back in that first year. During my undergraduate years, my tendency towards science and physics began to resurface, and I chose to study the more 'applied' courses, which resulted in me taking almost everything 'quantum' in my fourth year.
I developed a strong interest in Quantum Computation, as it was an area that somehow mixed Maths, Physics and Computing in a very interesting way. In 2012 I started my Ph.D. in Quantum Computation under the supervision of Professor Richard Jozsa, looking in particular at the computational complexity of quantum algorithms. I recently submitted my thesis, and am waiting to have my viva voce examination.
I started learning to program computers when I was just 3 (although my programs at the time were mainly copied out of books!), which I used to do on a BBC Micro computer. I loved the BBC Micro system, and I still have a emulated copy on which I can play Podd and Monsters when I get nostalgic! I later moved on to using Visual Basic on a Windows 3.1 machine, but it was really once I entered secondary school that I started developing my skills in earnest.
I took part in the British Informatics Olympiad every year, which was immensely enjoyable and rewarding, as the problems they gave often required us to do a little maths before we would be able to write an efficient program to solve them. Twice I made it to the top 15 students nationally.
I used to have a lot of fun programming in school, as I had a group of friends who enjoyed writing software to interfere with the school network (perhaps I shouldn't say any more here!)—though we didn't break any school rules! I worked at the company Redgate in Cambridge during the summer holiday after my third year in Cambridge, where I helped to make a new 404 page with a zombie-kitten game on it (sadly, this has now been removed from the website)—a week well spent!
I still write lots of code, normally in the form of small, helpful utilities, or as larger websites.
It was pointed out to me once that only hens lay eggs, and yet for those breeding chickens, half of the eggs that hatch will be male. What happens to all of these male chicks? Of course, I soon found out the answer: they are killed, almost immediately after birth, perhaps by gassing, or by simply being dropped into a macerator. I began looking for 'more ethical' eggs, hoping that there would be someone, somewhere, who didn't do this to their male chicks. I was sorely disappointed. But then I thought: What if there were a place that did raise their male chicks well, and didn't kill them off? Would it then be okay to eat the eggs of the hens? The more I thought about this, the more I realised that however we take the eggs of hens, we're still taking eggs that do not belong to us.
I watched videos of lectures online, scenes from factory farms and slaughterhouses, and read several books, coming to the conclusion that I don't want to be part of this industry. Animals are here with us, not for us, and their lives are as important to them as our lives are to us. As a vegan I could help to reduce the suffering of animals, and the suffering of the planet. As a vegan activist, I could help others make that choice too.
Anyone who knew me from a few years ago would have described me as a huge lover of meat, cheese, milk and eggs. Particularly cheese. And steak. But I couldn't do it anymore. And since I've been vegan, I've been enjoying food so much more. I've been eating the most creative and delicious meals I've ever come across. I have felt innumerable benefits to myself, and it's wonderful to know that I'm making a difference for others too.