Twenty high school students reach finals for U.S. International Chemistry Olympiad Team

Twenty of the nation’s top high school chemistry students, representing eight states, will compete for a spot on the U.S. team in the 39th annual International Chemistry Olympiad in Moscow, July 15-24, 2007.

Sixteen boys and four girls, chosen from a pool of more than 11,000 high school students nationwide, will spend June 3 -17 preparing at a study camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. During the camp, the students will receive college-level training, with an emphasis on organic chemistry, through a series of lectures, problem-solving exercises, lab work and testing. At the conclusion, a four-member U.S. team will be named to participate in the international contest with teams from more than 65 other countries. Each country sends four contestants and two coaches to the host country for seven to 10 days of exams, lectures, recreation and tours.

Sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, the U.S. team has been a strong competitor at the international event. The 2006 U.S. team won three silver medals and one bronze. In 1999 and 2000, a member of the American team won the top gold medal at the Olympiad.

“Now, more than ever, we need to educate the next generation about the exciting and challenging field of science,” said ACS President Catherine T. Hunt, Ph.D. “In this highly competitive, burgeoning global economy, if our nation is to remain strong in the worldwide marketplace, we must attract the best and brightest students to chemistry and the other sciences. The program stands for academic excellence, and we at ACS are proud of the young students who have worked so hard to become candidates for the U.S. team.”

“We are looking forward to another great time at this summer’s Study Camp at the Air Force Academy,” predicted John Kotz, head mentor, Emeritus Professor, State University of New York College at Oneonta. “Even though the camp is challenging and a lot of work, students really enjoy the experience. Not only do they learn new chemistry and experience more advanced laboratories, they also get to work with others from all over the U.S. who are as excited about science as they are. They work together as a team and help each other get ready for the international event.”

Other mentors for the program are Will Lynch, professor of chemistry, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Ga.; Kara Pezzi, chemistry teacher, Appleton East High School, Appleton, Wisc.; and John L. (J.L.) Kiappes, a chemistry student and peer mentor, Rice University.

The International Chemistry Olympiad originated with Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in 1968. Soon, other Eastern European countries joined the event, and 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 has sponsored the American team annually since the United States joined the Olympiad. Principal funding is through the Society’s Othmer Olympiad Endowment, with additional support from the U.S. Air Force Academy; IBM Research; Merck Publishing Group; Texas Instruments, Inc.; W.H. Freeman & Company; McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Advanced Chemistry Development; Thomson, Brooks/Cole; Pearson Prentice Hall; Flinn Scientific Inc.; Carolina Biological Supply Company; Sigma Chemical Company; and Fisher Scientific.

The 20 U.S. finalists who will participate in this year’s study camp and compete for positions on the Olympiad team are:

Ala., HuntsvilleMatthew Nubbe*Huntsville High School
Calif., BakersfieldJustin Koh*Stockdale High School
Calif., Northridge Jonathan LeeHarvard-Westlake High School
Calif., San JoseVikram NathanThe Harker School
Calif., San DiegoHenry Tung*Torrey Pines High School
Calif., Yorba LindaPatricia Widener*Valencia High School
Ill., Buffalo GroveAri FrankelChicagoland Jewish High School
Ill., WilmetteJonathan ThirmanNew Trier High School
Mo., ChesterfieldAndrew LiuParkway Central High School
N.J., Cherry HillJustin Deng Cherry Hill East High School
N.J., PlainsboroSofia Izmailov*W. Windsor-Plainsboro H.S. South
N.J., Franklin LakesBrian Lee*Academy Adv. in Science & Tech.
N.J., HolmdelAlaap ParikhHolmdel High School.
N.J., East BrunswickYuxin XieEast Brunswick High School
N.Y., CheektowagaBrian ChmielowiecSt. Joseph's Collegiate Institute
N.Y., EndicottJeffrey Galkowski Union-Endicott High School
N.Y., WilliamsvilleElizabeth PengWilliamsville South High School
N.Y., HuntingtonMatthew RienzoHuntington High School
Tenn., ChattanoogaBenjamin Jones*McCallie School
Utah, ProvoKenneth BrewerTimpview High School

*Student participated in previous study camp.