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2020 Chemistry Olympiad team named

The COVID-19 pandemic moves July competition online

by Andrea Widener
June 16, 2020


The US team that will compete in the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad, which will be conducted fully online because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were selected on June 12.

A head shot of Anugrah Chemparathy.
Credit: Courtsey of Anugrah Chemparathy
Anugrah Chemparathy

The team was chosen after an online study camp that took place May 31 to June 12. It was organized by the American Chemical Society in collaboration with the University of Maryland, College Park.

A head shot of Alex Li.
Credit: Courtsey of Alex Li
Alex Li

The team members are Anugrah Chemparathy of Dougherty Valley High School in California; Alex Li and Alec Zhu of Lexington High School in Massachusetts; and Ananthan Sadagopan of Westborough High School in Massachusetts.

A head shot of Ananthan Sadagopan.
Credit: Courtsey of Ananthan Sadagopan
Ananthan Sadagopan

The first alternate is Nicholas Tsao of St. Mark’s School in Texas, and the second alternate is Michael Han of Dougherty Valley High School.

A head shot of Alec Zhu.
Credit: Courtsey of Alec Zhu
Alec Zhu

The online study camp is something new, but the mentors worked to run it in a similar way as in-person camps. That includes social events like games and a talent show so the participants could get to know each other.

“It was really evident how much effort the mentors put into making the camp as close to the real experience as they could, despite it being online, and I think we all really appreciated that,” Sadagopan says. “Overall, it was a really rewarding experience.”

The Olympiad trainers called in former campers and former mentors to help make the experience the best it could be given the circumstances.

“We tried to make the best of a situation that we had no control over. We used technology to the utmost,” says head mentor Melissa Barranger Mathys, a chemistry professor at Ursuline College in Ohio. “And I think we did a good job.”

The 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad, hosted by Turkey, will be held online on July 25. The lab-based portion of the competition has been dropped, which eliminates many of the opportunities for mistakes inherent in the lab section, the team members say.

“Based on historical trends, the absence of a lab section could be greatly beneficial,” Zhu says.


This story was updated on June 17, 2020, to give the correct date for the 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad. The date of the International Chemistry Olympiad is July 25th, 2020, not June 25th.


This story was updated on June 17, 2020, to correctly identify the first and second alternates and to correct the source of the quote. The first alternate is Nicholas Tsao, and the second alternate is Michael Han. Not the other way around. The last quote is from Alec Zhu, not Anugrah Chemparathy.



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