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U.S. Team Picked For International Chemistry Olympiad

Competitions: Four high school students are selected to represent the U.S. in Moscow

by Linda Wang
June 20, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 25

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Credit: Kelli Slunt
Agrawal (from left), Liang, Liu, and Ting pose with the team’s falcon mascot.
Saaket Agrawal (from left) of Mira Loma High School, in California; David Liang of Carmel High School, in Indiana; a stuffed doll resembling a bird in a hoodie; Runpeng Liu of Ladue Horton Watkins High School, in Missouri; and Stephen Ting of Monta Vista High School, in California.
Credit: Kelli Slunt
Agrawal (from left), Liang, Liu, and Ting pose with the team’s falcon mascot.

Four high school students have been selected to represent the U.S. at the 45th International Chemistry Olympiad in Moscow on July 15–24.

The U.S. team consists of Saaket Agrawal of Mira Loma High School, in California; David Liang of Carmel High School, in Indiana; Runpeng Liu of Ladue Horton Watkins High School, in Missouri; and Stephen Ting of Monta Vista High School, in California.

“It’s humbling to be one of the top four, to be representing the U.S. internationally,” Liu says.

Two alternates were also chosen: Jessica Xu of Watchung Hills Regional High School, in New Jersey, and Stephen Tang of Solon High School, in Ohio.

The team was selected at the conclusion of an intensive two-week U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad study camp organized by the American Chemical Society (which publishes C&EN) and held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 4–19. Twenty students—16 men and four women—participated in this year’s study camp. They were the top scorers among approximately 14,000 students who took a regional exam, 1,000 of whom went on to take the national exam.

“Each of the students has their own unique strengths,” says head mentor Kelli Slunt, a chemistry professor at the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Va. “And each of them will excel in Russia in different ways.”

Getting ready for the trip to Moscow will be tough, Liu says. “We know we’re well prepared, but we also know that there’s a lot of work to be done in the next three weeks before the competition.”

In Moscow, the U.S. team will compete for medals alongside students from 74 other countries. Participants will be judged on theoretical knowledge as well as laboratory skills. The students will also be treated to sightseeing and cultural activities in and around Moscow.

Agrawal says he is looking forward to developing relationships with his peers from around the world. “The biggest language we have in common is the language of chemistry,” he says.

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