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K-12 Education

U.S. Chemistry Olympiad team selected

Students head to the International Chemistry Olympiad in Tbilisi, Georgia

by Linda Wang
June 16, 2016

A group of four students.
Credit: Kelli Slunt
Pan, Tang, Liu, and Tian with their medals.

Four high school students have been selected to represent the U.S. at the 48th International Chemistry Olympiad, which will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia, from July 23 to Aug. 1.

The team members are: Alex Liu of the Village School, in Houston; Zilu Pan of Canyon Crest Academy, in San Diego; Kevin Tang of Solon High School, in Ohio; Joyce Tian of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, in Alexandria, Va., and Steven Liu of Monta Vista High School, in Cupertino, Calif., is the first alternate. Harrison Wang, Hinsdale Central High School, in Illinois, is the second alternate.

The team was announced at the conclusion of an intensive two-week study camp, held May 31 to June 15 at the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Va. The study camp is sponsored by the American Chemical Society.

“We have a very well-rounded team, and they each have areas in which they excel,” says head mentor Kelli Slunt, a chemistry professor at the University of Mary Washington. “Zilu is very strong in the laboratory. Kevin is very strong in organic theory. Joyce and Alex both excel in the mathematical areas. I’m really proud of them.”

Liu says that attending the study camp helped him strengthen his laboratory techniques. “I improved a lot,” he says.

Pan says that the preparation he received during the study camp exposed him to the time limitations he would be under during the international competition. “It’s given me a taste of what it would be like, so I’m more mentally prepared.”

Tian says she made lifelong friends during the study camp. “Every single person here was both super motivated and super helpful to each other, so there wasn’t as much pressure as I was expecting.”

Tang says he’s looking forward to broadening his perspectives at the international competition. “As a high school student, you’re not introduced to more of the advanced fields, or to what it’s like to be a professional in the field,” he says. “One of the main things I’d like to do is explore all there is about chemistry and get a better idea of my interests in the field.”

Other mentors for the U.S. team include Patrick Chan of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, in New York; Christine Saber of Gannon University, in Pennsylvania; Jacob Sanders of Harvard University; and Sidharth Chand of Harvard University. This was the first year the study camp took place at the University of Mary Washington.



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