Canadian Olympiad Finalists 2017

From left: Jeffrey Zhou, Karen Li, Hermish Mehta, and Raluca Petrut

Canada’s secondary school chemistry whizzes brought home silver and bronze medals as well as an honourable mention at the 49th International Chemistry Olympiad team, held this past July 6-15 in the city of Nakhon Pathom in central Thailand. Team members included silver medalist Hermish Mehta of University of Toronto Schools, Jeffrey Zhou of Western Canada High School in Calgary, who won bronze, Raluca Petrut, also of University of Toronto Schools, who was awarded honourable mention and Karen Li of Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto.

The International Chemistry Olympiad is an annual competition for the world’s top secondary school students. The program is intended to stimulate independent and creative problem solving in chemistry while promoting international contacts and friendships as well as the exchange of pedagogical and scientific experience. This year, about 300 students from 76 countries competed in two gruelling tests of knowledge and practical ability: a five-hour theoretical and a five-hour laboratory exam.

Silver medals were awarded to students finishing in the top 11 to 30 percent of competitors while  bronze was given to those in the top 31 to 60 percent. Honourable mentions go to the top 10 students who are not awarded a medal.

In Canada, Olympiad team members are chosen in April in a national competition. This year, more than 400 students signed up for the Olympiad written exam, which is carried out in conjunction with the Canadian Chemistry Competition. The top four students are chosen based upon the multiple choice test as well as the Ontario Chemistry Camp held in early May at the University of Toronto.

The Chemical Institute of Canada extends its thanks to Andrew Dicks and Philip Sohn, both of U of T, for their hard work in helping prepare and mentor the Canadian Olympiad team. Dicks, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at U of T, is outgoing Olympiad head mentor and national coordinator. Sohn, a U of T chemistry graduate student, is the incoming national coordinator. The CCO also thanks the volunteers who helped write the Olympiad exam, organized the provincial camp and prepared the students for Thailand.