Md., N.J., Tenn., Texas students named to US Chemistry Olympiad team

06/28/04

Four of the nation's top high school chemistry students will represent the United States in the 36th annual International Chemistry Olympiad in Kiel, Germany, July 18-27. They will compete with students from some 60 other countries in the event, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The four, plus two students from California who will serve as alternates, are:

Emily Tsui, Potomac, Md. — A 2004 graduate of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., she will attend M.I.T. One of her main interests is conservation and this June she is competing in the Montgomery County (Md.) Envirothon, which tests students' knowledge of conservation and other environmental issues. Her parents are Yo-Kung and Ling-ju Tsui.

Eric Brown, Chattanooga, Tenn. — A bronze medal winner on last year's U.S. International Chemistry Olympiad Team, he graduated from McCallie School in 2004 and will attend M.I.T. He also has spent three years building houses as a volunteer worker with Habitat for Humanity. His parents are Phil and Jackie Brown.

Fan Zhang, Montvale, N.J. — A senior at Bergen County Academies, Hackensack, he placed first in the Mandelbrot Math Competition; placed first at the New Jersey Regional Science Fair; and his team placed first in the New Jersey Science League competition in chemistry. His parents are Jiancai Zhang and Lihua Zhou.

John Leon Kiappes, Jr., Houston, Texas — He graduated from Memorial High School in 2004, where he was the first student from his school to compete for a place on the Chemistry Olympiad team. He will attend Rice University. He placed second in the American Chemical Society Local Section scholarship exam. His parents are John and Karen Kiappes.

Jeremy Hiatt, first alternate, Los Angeles, Calif. — He graduated from Harvard-Westlake High School in 2004 and will attend Stanford University. Jeremy is a National Merit Scholar and a state finalist for the U.S. International Physics Olympiad Team. His parents are Jonathan and Jo Carol Hiatt.

Allen Cheng, second alternate, Arcadia, Calif. — A junior at Arcadia High School, Allen is violin concertmaster with the Pasadena Young Musicians Orchestra. He won a gold medal for his school's Science Olympiad Team. His parents are Tien-Lu (Tony) and Natasha Cheng.

The high school students were selected this month at the conclusion of a comprehensive two-week study camp.

The U.S. team has been a strong competitor at the international event. In 2003 the team won one silver and three bronze medals. In 1999 and 2000 a member of the American team won the top gold medal at the Olympiad.

More than 10,000 high school students nationwide take local exams hoping to win a place on the Olympiad team. From those exams, twenty students are selected to participate at the June study camp, held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. They receive 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 are chosen from those attending the camp.

The International Chemistry Olympiad originated with Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary in 1968. Other eastern European countries soon 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, Bruce/Cole; Fisher Scientific; and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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