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Tradition of chemistry excellence continues for alumni

The tradition of excellence in chemistry continues for Department of Chemistry alumni Li Li and Lushi Tan. Their son Elmer Huaihan Tan just earned a silver medal in the International Chemistry Olympiad.

Li Li earned her master's degree in chemistry from Professor Peter Carr in 1995. She works at Bristol Meyer Squibb. Lushi Tan earned his doctorate in chemistry in 1995 under the tutelage of the late Professor Paul Gassman and Thomas Hoye. He works at Merck. Elmer was born in Minnesota.

Elmer, too, has a love for chemistry. This budding young scientist was one of four chosen after rigorous local, sectional, and national competitions to represent the United States at the recent 43rd International Chemistry Olympiad in Turkey. The qualifying competitions included theoretical examinations and a lab where they had to design their own experiments.

The competition was sponsored by the American Chemical Society. Initially, 12,000 high school chemistry students were involved. Elmer and his teammates were chosen to represent the United States at the international competition after excelling at a two-week training camp conducted for the 20 students involved in final national competition.

At the International Olympiad, the United States' team competed against 265 other students, representing 69 countries, in five hours of practical exams with labs, and five hours of theoretical exams. Elmer and his teammates emerged with the prestigious silver medal.

Like his parents, Elmer considering pursuing a chemistry degree in college and a possible career as a scientist. He currently is a senior at John P. Stevens High School in Edison, N.J.

Elmer Tan is second from the left in this photo courtesy of Cecilia Hernandez from the July 25, 2011, edition of C&EN News.