Carmel High School graduate earns silver at International Chemistry Olympiad


For Jack Liu, the best part of participating in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad was meeting new people.

“A lot of people think Chemistry Olympiad is just about competing, but there’s actually a very large social aspect,” Liu said. “I’ve met a ton of super cool people and even some of my closest friends from Chemistry Olympiad. Chemistry may not be in my life forever, but I know that the friendships that I made during my (USNCO) journey will last a lifetime.”

The 2022 Carmel High School graduate, who will be a freshman at MIT this fall, earned a silver medal at the 54th International Chemistry Olympiad, which ran July 8 to July 18. To qualify for the USA team for the International Olympiad, Liu participated in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad. It was the fourth time Liu competed in the national event but was the first time he qualified for the International Chemistry Olympiad.

“I worked and studied very hard for several years to be able to compete at (the event), so I was very excited to get a silver medal,” Liu said. “Of course, everyone who competes at (the Olympiad) has the ultimate goal of getting gold, so I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t achieve that. Nevertheless, I’m still very content with my end results and my experience.”

There were 326 students from 83 nations at the international competition. Team USA member Nathan Yihe Ouyang, Irvine, Calif., earned one of the 33 gold medals awarded. U.S. members Phoenix Wu, Katy, Texas, and Gideon Tzafriri, Lexington, Mass., also earned silver medals.

The four-person U.S. team was chosen at the National Chemistry Olympiad, camp, which was held in-person this year at the University of Maryland campus. Liu said the 20 highest-scoring students on the national exam are invited to participate in the two-week study camp, which took place in early June.

In a normal year, Liu said all students from around the world competing in the international competition would travel to the host nation to participate. The international competition was scheduled to be held in China, but instead was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For instance, all four members of Team USA met in Washington, D.C., to participate and take the (International Chemistry Olympiad) exam,” Liu said.

Liu said he is undecided on what major to pursue in college but is interested in math and computer science.