Matthew Park ’21 was named a national finalist in the 2020 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad competition sponsored by the American Chemical Society. He competed in the Connecticut Valley section regional exam to earn a spot to enter the national exam.
Both regional and national competitions were multiple-choice and online. The lab portion was removed because of the pandemic. Supervised by local coordinators over Zoom, the regional exam for the Connecticut Valley section was April 19 and the national exam was April 26. This was Matt’s first year participating in the Chemistry Olympiad.
Matt spent most of his summer, winter and spring breaks during his Fifth Form year preparing for the exams. “I solved previous regional and national exams and reviewed notes from AP Chemistry,” he explained. Unlike some of his competitors, he did not have the benefit of an exam coach. “I had to study nuclear chemistry and organic chemistry separately from the previous exams, but I spent more time consolidating and expanding information from the AP curriculum, which had a much larger portion,” he added. While a Westminster student, he has taken Chemistry Honors as a Third Former and AP Chemistry as a Fourth Former. He was awarded the Excellence in Chemistry Book Prize for academic year 2018-2019.
“I feel very grateful and honored to be a national finalist,” said Matt. “I almost never got the opportunity to enter the competition because the Connecticut Valley Section had canceled the regional test in March due to the pandemic, but, thankfully, they reopened online in late April. I am also very appreciative of chemistry teacher Nancy Urner-Berry and all other faculty members who brought me interest in chemistry.”
“This is quite an accomplishment, and it speaks to Matt’s perseverance and tenacity in pursuing his passion,” said Nancy about Matt’s national recognition in the competition.
In college, Matt is interested in pursuing electrical engineering and computer science. “Especially as a maker, I love to create devices that interact with users, such as Hazel, an olfactory mood enhancer and alarm clock I have developed that selects and diffuses a distinct aroma for the user,” he said. “Combining electrical engineering and chemistry, I want to research and experiment on the chemical compositions and efficiencies of new generations of solar panels like organic photovoltaic cells (OPVs) and Perovskite PVs. I am working on an experiment with science teacher Amanda Rappold in an independent study course to see if the combination of heat tech film insulator and semitransparent OPVs can generate greater efficiency for energy.”
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. It is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, e-books and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News.