‘Leading out the Cambridge 21s at Twickenham, having only arrived at university three months earlier, was an unforgettable experience.’ Leonardo Buizza is reflecting on some of the achievements and opportunities that have presented themselves to him through the game of rugby. Having gone on tours to South Africa, Italy, Ireland and Edinburgh during his time at school, he was fortunate enough to play at the home of English rugby four times during his time at university, twice as captain of the Cambridge U21s. ‘It’s just a shame that we never managed to make the Daily Mail cup final during our time at school!’
Having earned his place in the 1st XV for two consecutive seasons, Leo was eager to continue his rugby career when he began studying at Cambridge. ‘I’d made some of my best friends at school during Saturday afternoons on Bigside so it was something I was very keen to keep up when I was a fresher.’ Playing at Twickenham was an achievement that was quickly emulated by other OPs, including Andy Rees and Chris Bell, who both obtained Blues for Cambridge.
At Cambridge Leo studied Natural Sciences as an undergraduate, specialising in Physics, before crossing the divide to study for a PhD at Oxford. Having been unsure as to what path he should take upon graduation, and following a very enjoyable stint in a research lab in Cambridge for a summer project and then his Master's research project, it was a desire to make a meaningful contribution that led him to make the choice to further his studies. ‘Through my research, I’m hoping to help push on our understanding of a new generation of materials that are ideal for solar panels.’ Alongside his research, he has a keen interest in the role that solar power can play within the wider strategy of combatting climate change. Given the key role that a low-carbon energy system will play over the coming years, a PhD working on pushing the limits of solar is not a bad place to start.
With more than two years still to go for his PhD course, Leo recognises that at times it feels strange that a lot of his friends have been back in London for a while now and are starting to establish themselves in their careers. And yet he is already extremely grateful for the decision he made to not rush into something for the sake of it. Taking a wider perspective on his future has helped him to pursue something that is fulfilling and satisfies his desire to give back to wider society, having been privileged enough to have received the education he has. His advice to pupils who have recently left the school? ‘Don’t rush into something if you don’t believe in it and worry less about what others around you are doing. Paulines share a strong streak of individualism, embrace that freedom and use it to do something that interests you, and that gives back to others.’
Leo is currently undertaking a PhD researching Semiconductor Physics, and takes a keen interest in how we can achieve a transition to a zero-carbon energy system as part of the fight against climate change.