Calif., Conn., Mo. and N.J. students named to 2008 U.S. Chemistry Olympiad team

Four of the nation's top high school chemistry students –– one each from California, Connecticut, Missouri and New Jersey — have been chosen to represent the U.S. team in the 40th annual International Chemistry Olympiad in Budapest, Hungary, July 12-21, 2008. They will compete with students from 65 other countries in the event, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

The team members are:

  • Jonathan Lee - Northridge, Calif., Harvard-Westlake High School
  • Andrew Liu - Chesterfield, Mo., Parkway Central High School
  • Jenny Lu Southbury, Conn., Pomperaug High School
  • Yuxin Xie - East Brunswick, N.J., East Brunswick High School

Lee, Liu and Xie participated in last year’s Chemistry Olympiad summer camp as candidates for the U.S. team.

This year’s two alternates are:

  • Justin Koh - Bakersfield, Calif., Stockdale High School
  • Elizabeth Peng - Williamsville, N.Y., Williamsville South High School

Koh was a silver medalist in the Chemistry Olympiad in Moscow in 2007 and Peng participated in last year’s summer camp.

More than 11,000 high school students nationwide took local exams hoping to win a place on the Olympiad team. From those exams, 20 students were selected to participate at a June study camp, held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. The 20 finalists at the study camp received college-level training, with an emphasis on organic chemistry, through a series of lectures, problem-solving exercises, lab work and testing. The final team members and alternates were chosen from those attending the camp.

Kara Pezzi, a chemistry teacher at Appleton East High School, Appleton, Wis., is head mentor for the U.S. team; another mentor for the program is Will Lynch, professor of chemistry, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Ga.; and John L. (J.L.) Kiappes, is a chemistry student and peer mentor, Rice University, Houston, Texas.

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; Cengage Learning (formerly Thomson Learning); Pearson Prentice Hall; Flinn Scientific Inc.; Carolina Biological Supply Company; Sigma Chemical Company; and Fisher Scientific.

Additional information about the team members and photos may be obtained from the contact person on this release.