THOMAS ELLIS has brushed shoulders with some of the world's best scientists and witnessed their work in leading laboratories overseas.
Now, the 17-year-old Lambton High School student is firmly focused on his dream of becoming a scientist specialising in physics or molecular chemistry and do his bit to transform science across the globe.
A stint representing Australia at the London International Youth Science Forum and a trip to the CERN laboratory in Switzerland earlier this month have helped cement his plans.
"Being at CERN was so inspiring - the work that comes out of that place is incredible and I kept imagining myself there doing research in the future."
Thomas was one of 450 young people from 65 countries chosen to attend the forum and take part in a series of lectures and workshops.
He took an interest in the medical and physics side of the forum and sat in on a variety of lectures, including one on fighting malaria with genetic modifications.
"The program allows you to get a feel for all different fields of science as you attend many mandatory lectures on all different subjects."
A science bazaar where many of his peers presented research projects showed him how committed young people were to solving the world's mysteries. He was especially impressed by a Maltese claim to have found a cure for asthma and a Sri Lankan project that claimed to have the means to cure HIV.
"A lot of these projects were held back because technological and economic challenges in their countries prevented them from continuing their research at a university with the proper equipment," Thomas said.
"My ultimate dream is to make science equally accessible to all people across the planet, to make it universal, with no constraints due to localised issues such as economy, political stability or technological constraints ... To create a world where within science there are no borders, just ideas."
Thomas is now studying for the HSC exams. He hopes to secure a place in a combined science and law degree at the University of Sydney.