Angela Harper

Club CUBC Women

Year of Birth 1995

Hometown Clifton Park, New York

Nationality USA

College Churchill

Undergrad/Graduate PhD

Year 3rd

What are you studying? Physics

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? I am a theoretical physicist and I work on lithium-ion batteries. I think the most interesting part of my course is when something I have predicted computationally is then replicated in an experiment. I work at a very small scale (think atomic level). The idea is that a prediction on that level can have real implications for battery applications in green technology for the future.

Future ambitions? I plan to do a post-doctorate after my PhD, and eventually hope to become a university professor with my own theoretical physics lab.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? For me, rowing provides the structure I need to be productive throughout the day. Having a limited set of hours between training sessions gives me the motivation to be productive in the interim and stay focused.

When did you start rowing, and why? I started coxing in 2018 in the summer after my Masters at Cambridge. I had heard a lot about rowing as I was growing up, not least because my mother had also been asked to cox while she was at university. So I thought I would try it out, and absolutely fell in love with the sport.

What was your first club? Churchill College Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Cambridge? The people, hands down. The women I row with here are some of the most inspiring, friendly, supportive people I could have asked to spend my PhD with. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to get to know them throughout the season.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I only began coxing two years ago. To be sitting here today, writing this, at one of the best rowing clubs in the country is most certainly my biggest achievement so far. While losing the chance to cox Blondie in 2020 means I haven’t achieved exactly what I want in terms of experience, I still feel a great sense of pride in getting to the level of coxing that I have this year.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No, I was meant to cox in the 2020 Blondie/Osiris race.

Your favourite race so far? Quintin Head, 2020.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? I always make sure to have a double espresso and go through the race in my head the morning before it happens.

Your sporting idol? Zoe de Toledo. If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Megan Rapinoe.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? Breathing, and just remembering the mission and why we’re here rowing.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? I used to be a classical singer, and love to sing, play the flute, and in general do anything music-related. I was in a concert choir in high school and college. I also sang for the Cambridge University choir before I started rowing.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? Small goals are important and remembering to take each day one step at a time. Unfortunately, the way things are right now it feels nearly impossible to know what will happen tomorrow, let alone next week. So I keep reminding myself and my teammates that we have to make the best of this session, this moment and this stroke. That is the only way we can get faster. I also have taken a lot of time during lockdown to surround myself with people either virtually, on socially distant walks, or at coffee shops. This way I can help support and be supported by the squad.