Harvard's halls contain several athletic and mathematic Olympians who have participated in international competition.
But this year for the first time, the College has a new kind of international Olympic superstar--a chemistry jock.
Pennypacker freshman Aaron DiAntonio was one of four members of the first-ever U.S. Chemistry Olympics Team, which competed in Frankfurt, Germany, this July.
Along with the Math and Physics Olympics, the International Chemistry Olympiad is held annually in Europe; but this is the first year America entered the 20-country event.
Aaron scored 50th out of 76 international chemstuds (earning him a bronze medal), and his teammates also scored well, placing the U.S. 8th overall, an unprecedented achievement for a first-year participant.
To Aaron, the whole summer was a blur, which ironically began rather quietly in May...
Molecules or Mexico
After winning a local chemistry competition, the Missouri senior was nominated by his teacher to take a new national test sponsored by the American Chemical Society.
Apparently, the Society planned to fly the nation's 20 top scorers to a study camp at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for two weeks in June.
"I was half hoping I wouldn't get it because I wanted to go to Mexico to see my girlfriend," said DiAntonio. After taking the difficult 4-hour text, he was sure his worries were over.
"I hadn't studied for the test," which covered all high school chemistry.
He was especially sure he had blown a complex organic problem--"I'd never seen that many carbons on one molecule."
The next thing Aaron knew, he was taking his final exams early so that he could fly to Colorado on June 10.
The Chemistry Study Camp, Chemcamp for short, seemed longer than two weeks. "Basically, we ate and we slept and we did chemistry," DiAntonio said.