- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2008

The team of U.S. biology students who competed in the International Biology Olympiad, held last month in Bombay won four gold medals — the highest possible achievement, according to the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) in McLean.

Four U.S. high schoolers are sent each year to the Olympiad, and this year’s team included two Maryland boys.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for our students to compete and do so well,” said CEE President Joann P. DiGennaro. “The competition was extremely tough and I’m very proud of their performance.”

The members of the U.S. team this year were: Jonathan Gootenberg of Rockville; Jonathan Liang of North Potomac; David Huang of Hockessin, Del.; and Seungsoo Kim of Vancouver, Wash.

Mr. Gootenberg, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School, who is eligible to compete again next year, saw the event as more than just a competition, more than just another science test.

“Part of it is about the competition, but it’s also about getting to know your peers,” he said. “Interacting with teams from all over the world was a great experience.”

He is currently working as an research intern in ovarian cancer at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

Mr. Liang is a senior at Thomas S. Wootton High School in North Potomac.

Their achievement matched the U.S. team result of last year and of 2004, when the United States became the first nation to have its students win the maximum four gold medals at the Olympiad. Chinese teams won four gold medals in 2005 and 2006. Fifty-five nations sent a team of four high school students to the competition this year.

A student who places in the top 10 percent of his or her peers wins a gold medal. Team members compete head-to-head in theoretical and laboratory tests.

Students from across the country vied to join the team. The final cut came at the sixth-annual USA Biology Olympiad at George Mason University, when 20 finalists competed over a two-week period in early June to earn the trip to Bombay.

The national olympiad is sponsored by the CEE, which was founded in 1983 by Ms. DiGennaro and the late Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, who is considered the father of the U.S. nuclear Navy.

Ms. DiGennaro noted with pride that all four members of this year’s team were from public schools.

“When you hear about [public] education it tends to be all of the negative parts of the system, but this is a positive thing that the academic world has achieved,” she said.

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