Chemistry Olympians bring home gold and silver medals 

***Editor’s note: Photos and video available upon request

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2021 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) is proud to announce that Team USA earned two gold and two silver medals at the 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO), held virtually from Japan. More than 300 students from 79 countries participated in this year’s competition.                                                                                                         
Team USA earned the following medals:                                                                      Gold Medalists
Qiyang Zhou, Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, N.J.
Yitian Zhu, Seven Lakes High School, Katy, Texas

Silver Medalists
Kien Phuong, Landon School, Bethesda, Md.
Nikhil Seshadri, University City High School, San Diego

“Chemistry was a lot more than I’d originally thought,” remarked Seshadri. “The more I’ve learned about chemistry, the more I’ve found that there is to learn, which has made me even more interested. With an understanding of chemistry, I can explain the natural world around me.”

“Originally, I’m from Vietnam, and since grade seven I’ve had interest in chemistry,” says Phuong. “Back in high school in Vietnam, I was in the Olympiad there. When I moved to the U.S. in mid-August 2020, I set my target to participate again in the IChO program with ACS.”

Zhou says, “My favorite part is organic chemistry because it is particularly interesting. It’s an experimental science and designs new processes. Those new reactions are the epitome of human intelligence.”

“The people around me are just so supportive. They would just do anything to help each other,” says Zhu. “There was no competitiveness among the team members. Whenever someone didn’t know something, somebody else would be super enthusiastic to help out. I just love that sort of community.”

The U.S. team was supported by head mentor Joseph Houck, Ph.D., Penn State University in University Park, Pa.; high school mentor Esther Hines, Billerica Memorial High School, Billerica, Mass.; college mentor Laura Serbulea, Ph.D., University of Virginia; and peer mentors Anugrah Chemparathy and Edward Jin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

ACS has sponsored the U.S. team annually since the nation joined the Olympiad in 1984. Principal funding is through the ACS Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Chemistry Olympiad Endowment, with additional support from other donors. For a complete list of donors, visit

To automatically receive press releases from the American Chemical Society, contact

Note: ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies.

Media Contact

ACS Newsroom


Left to right: Yitian Zhu, Nikhil Seshadri, Kien Phuong, Qiyang Zhou
Credit: David Horwitz