US team brings home the gold from the International Chemistry Olympiad

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1,  2018 —- The American Chemical Society (ACS) is proud to announce that the four high school students who represented the U.S. at the annual International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) each earned a gold medal. This is the second year in a row in which the U.S. team earned four golds. The competition was held in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Prague, Czech Republic, on July 19-29.

The members of the highest-performing team in the history of America’s participation in the event are: 

Jeffrey Shi of Marcellus High School, Marcellus, New York, who placed 4th

Michelle Lu of Pomperaug High School, Southbury, Connecticut, who placed 10th

Andrew Wu of Park Tudor School, Indianapolis, Indiana, who placed 12th

Yutong Dai of Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, Princeton, New Jersey, who placed 13th

The competition for the medals was fierce; the U.S. team competed with 300 high school students from 76 countries.

Speaking with the ACS newsmagazine Chemical & Engineering News, Dai said that as soon as she learned of the results, she texted her parents, who had been eagerly waiting to hear the news. “I’m so proud that we as a team won four golds,” Dai says. “It’s so exciting.” 

Lu said the theoretical and practical exams “touched on a lot of interesting topics that I think a lot of us had never thought about before, like DNA equilibrium. It was quite interesting to work through.”

Shi said it was a unique experience to meet chemistry students from all over the world. “It was really interesting learning about their countries, their education systems, and how their selection process for the chemistry olympiad works. It's really different in every country,” he says. 

Wu said the team was unified in its goal of getting four gold medals this year. “We were on the same page, and we helped each other do the best that we could,” he said. “I'm really honored to be a part of such an amazing team."

ACS has sponsored the American team annually since the U.S. joined the Olympiad in 1984. Principal funding is through the ACS Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Olympiad Endowment, with additional support from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Department of Chemistry; Carolina Biological Supply Company; National Geographic Learning|Cengage Learning; Fisher Science Education; Flinn Scientific Inc.; Pearson; Texas Instruments Inc.; University Science Books; and Wiley & Sons Publishers.

The International Chemistry Olympiad originated with Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in 1968. Soon, other Eastern European countries joined the event; Western Europe began participating in 1974. The first U.S. team competed in 1984, winning one silver and two bronze medals.

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Left to right: Wu, Dai, Lu, Shi
Credit: Christine Saber