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Chemistry Olympiad Team Set

ACS News: U.S. students will head to Vietnam to compete in international competition

by Linda Wang
June 19, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 25

Four U.S. high school students are headed to Vietnam to represent the U.S. in the 46th International Chemistry Olympiad, to be held July 20–29 in Hanoi. The four-member team was chosen on June 17 at the conclusion of an intensive two-week study camp sponsored by the American Chemical Society and held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Credit: Melissa Barranger-Mathys
Li (from left), Wang, Kao, and Chen will be representing the U.S. in Vietnam.
Photo of Stephen Li (from left), Derek Wang, Robert Kao, and Andrew Chen were selected to compete in the 46th International Chemistry Olympiad in Vietnam.
Credit: Melissa Barranger-Mathys
Li (from left), Wang, Kao, and Chen will be representing the U.S. in Vietnam.

The team consists of Andrew Chen of West Windsor Plainsboro High School South, in New Jersey; Robert Kao of Edwin O. Smith High School, in Storrs, Conn.; Stephen Li of Troy High School, in Michigan; and Derek Wang of North Allegheny Senior High School, in Wexford, Pa. The alternates are Sooraj­nath Boominathan of Oklahoma School of Science & Mathematics, in Oklahoma City, and David Wang of Monta Vista High School, in Cupertino, Calif.

“Our team is extremely strong,” says mentor Melissa Barranger-Mathys, a chemistry professor at Ursuline College, in Ohio. “We have a great group of thinkers, and they can reason through any challenging problem.”

“I’m really humbled that I got chosen for the travel team,” Wang says. “I’m going to do my best to get a gold medal for the U.S., but I’m also really excited to meet young chemists from around the world.”

“I’m really proud of myself,” says Kao, who notes that he became hooked on learning chemistry in fourth grade after picking up a chemistry book at his local library and realizing that he understood the material.

Li says that he’s in disbelief that he made the team. “I’ve wanted to make it for so long,” he says. But he knows there’s still much work ahead that comes with a great deal of responsibility. “You’re representing not just yourself or your school, but your country.”

The team is confident they will prove themselves. “Our biggest strength is that we can work together, and we can help each other,” Chen says. “For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been working against each other, but at a moment’s notice, we can turn that around and we can be teammates rather than competitors.”­



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