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Chemistry Olympiad Team Chosen

by Linda Wang
June 29, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 26

Credit: Kelli Slunt
Boominathan (from left), Wang, Cai, and Ong are headed to Baku. Wang holds the team’s falcon mascot.
Credit: Kelli Slunt
Boominathan (from left), Wang, Cai, and Ong are headed to Baku. Wang holds the team’s falcon mascot.

Four high school students will be heading to Baku, Azerbaijan, to represent the U.S. in the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad, to be held July 20–29.

The team members are Soorajnath Boominathan of Oklahoma School of Science & Mathematics, in Oklahoma City; Bryce Cai of Barrington High School, in Illinois; Janice Ong of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, in Alexandria, Va.; and David Wang of Monta Vista High School, in Cupertino, Calif. Rueih-Sheng Fu of Arcadia High School, in California, is the first alternate; Richard Wang of North Hollywood High School, in Los Angeles, is the second alternate.

Judges at the intensive two-week U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad study camp, sponsored by the American Chemical Society and held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, announced the team members when the camp ended last week.

“They’re a very strong team, and they’re going to really represent the U.S. well,” says head mentor Kelli Slunt, a chemistry professor at the University of Mary Washington. “I’m very excited; I think that we have a strong chance to medal high with this group.”

When C&EN reached the team members only 20 minutes after they had learned of their standing, they could barely contain their enthusiasm. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and working toward it,” Boominathan says.

Some were in disbelief that they had made the team. “There were a lot of moments where I thought I had completely botched something and I was done for, but somehow I’m here,” Cai says about the study camp.

“I feel like I’m dreaming, but I’m really excited about it all,” Ong says.

“It’s an incredible honor to represent the U.S. at such a prestigious international competition,” Wang says, adding that winning a medal there would be only part of the experience.

“Anything that happens right now, I will be extremely pleased,” he says. “I really hope to meet as many people at the International Chemistry Olympiad as I possibly can because these people will go on to do wonderful things.”

Other mentors for the U.S. team include Michael Danahy of Bowdoin College, in Maine; Patrick Chan of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, in New York; and Jacob Sanders of Harvard University.

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