U.S. students win gold, silver and bronze at International Chemistry Olympiad

July 16, 2002

Four of the nation's top high school chemistry students brought home gold, silver and bronze medals for the U.S. in the 34th International Chemistry Olympiad. Ranking 21st and 25th overall, Helen Shi of Edmond, Okla. and Daniel Cissell of Cincinnati, Ohio earned gold medals at the competition. Colin Whittaker of Wayland, Mass., placing 36th, received a silver medal, and Timothy Davenport of Tulsa, Okla. ranked 90th and received a bronze medal.

Nearly 200 students from more than 50 countries showcased their science skills at this year's competition July 5-14 in Groningen, Netherlands. The U.S. Chemistry Olympiad is organized and sponsored by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The Olympiad competition is designed to be about as difficult as mid-level college chemistry courses. The core of the competition is a five-hour exam on chemistry theory plus another five hours of laboratory experiments and procedures.

The four students were selected at the conclusion of a rigorous two-week training camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. in June. They and 16 other students from around the nation received college-level training, with an emphasis on organic chemistry, through a series of lectures, problem-solving exercises, lab work and testing. More than 10,000 high school students nationwide took local exams vying for a chance at one of the 20 slots.

A strong competitor over the years, the U.S. team achieved "best in the world" status in 1999 with three gold medals, including the top gold, and one silver. An American team member also won the top gold medal in 2000.

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 coordinated and sponsored the American team annually since the U.S. 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 and Harcourt College Publishers.

The four-member Olympiad team and two alternates are:

Daniel Cissell, Cincinnati, Ohio -- A recent graduate of Walnut Hills High School, Cissell, 17, will study chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall. A participant in last year's Chemistry Olympiad study camp, Cissell is an Eagle Scout and the president of his school's chapter of the Junior Engineering Technical Society. He is a National Merit Scholar and a member of the Cum Laude Society. Daniel is the son of Ruth and Joe Cissell.Timothy Davenport, Tulsa, Okla. -- A recent graduate of the Oklahoma School of Science and Math in Oklahoma City, Davenport, 18, will study chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall. A National Merit Scholar and Academic All-Stater, he is an Eagle Scout and plays the french horn in the orchestra and band. Timothy is the son of Joe and RoxAnn Davenport.

Helen Shi, Edmond, Okla. -- A recent graduate of the Oklahoma School of Science and Math in Oklahoma City, Shi, 18, will study chemical engineering and pre-med at Stanford University in the fall. A National Merit Scholar and Academic All-Stater, Shi is active in the orchestra, student council and her church youth group. Helen is the daughter of Xiaolin Shi and Lan Diwu.

Colin Whittaker, Wayland, Mass. -- A recent graduate of Wayland High School, Whittaker, 18, will study chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall. A participant in last year's Chemistry Olympiad study camp, his activities and honors include: cross country, math team, yearbook, physics bowl first place and physics Olympiad semifinalist. Colin, the son of Jill Jacobs and Carl Whittaker, plans a career in computer programming after college.

William Lin, East Amherst, N.Y., alternate -- A recent graduate and valedictorian of Williamsville East High School, Lin, 17, will study biochemistry and applied mathematics at Harvard University in the fall. A participant in last year's Chemistry Olympiad study camp, he is a winner of the Harvard Prize Book Award and a National Merit Scholar. His activities include: varsity golf and tennis, violin, piano and volunteer work. William is the son of Michael and Grace Lin.

Melinda Ross, Yukon, Okla., alternate -- Ross, 18, is a recent graduate of the Oklahoma School of Science & Math in Oklahoma City.

American Chemical Society

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