Blair alumnus wins gold in international science competition

Aug. 2, 2009, midnight | By Dennis Chae | 13 years, 7 months ago

Jonathan Gootenberg finishes 16th overall to earn gold at International Biology Olympiad

In his second year of participating in the competition, Blair alumnus Jonathan Gootenberg earned another gold medal in the 20th annual International Biology Olympiad (IBO), which took place in Tsukuba, Japan from July 12 - 19.

The IBO, an annual biology competition developed to stimulate interest in the subject and to foster future biologists, had a record turnout with 221 students from 56 countries participating. The competition involves two days of testing split into theoretical and practical examinations. This year, the examinations covered a wide range of biology topics including biochemistry, genetics, cell physiology and animal and plant anatomy.

Team USA (from left to right): David Huang, Jonathan Gootenberg, Seungsoo Kim and Jonathan Liang. Picture courtesy of the Center for Excellence in Education.

Gootenberg, as well as the other three members of the USA team, was subject to a lengthy process before qualifying for the IBO. Of the nearly 10,000 students across the nation who registered for the USA Biology Olympiad (USABO), he was one of 20 chosen to attend a biology camp at George Mason University for training and testing after advancing to the finals. Joann DiGennaro, president of the non-profit Center for Excellence in Education, which sponsors the USABO, regards the national competition as a platform for some of the top performing science students in the states. "The USA Biology Olympiad National finalists are among the highest achieving biology high school students in the nation," DiGennaro said.

The top four scorers in the finals were selected to the 2009 USA team to represent America in the IBO. The same four members of the 2008 USA team were selected as finalists again for the 2009 USA team: Gootenberg, Thomas S. Wootton High School alumnus Jonathan Liang, David Huang and Seungsoo Kim. At the IBO, all four members of Team USA won a gold medal - awarded to the top 10 percent of the participants - for the third consecutive year.

"I am exceedingly proud of this year's Team USA members and their success to honor the United States with their superior academic performance in the global community," said DiGennaro. "This is a tremendous feat, and the scholars' hard work and dedication to the study of biology is truly commendable."

A alumnus of the Magnet program and a rising student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Gootenberg decided to return to the IBO for a second year despite having already won a gold medal in 2008. "I didn't have a particular motivation," he said. "But it's nice to travel internationally, and when I [participated] last year, it didn't exactly hurt my college chances."

Gootenberg finished the IBO in 16th place overall with a score percentage of 123.54. He cited his diligent studies as a main factor in his gold medal placing. "The first couple rounds of USABO are written, so I studied biology textbooks," Gootenberg said. "I also studied about an hour a day throughout July."

Dr. Hiroo Imura, Chairman of the 2009 IBO, expressed great optimism for the future of the IBO and of biological science in general. "Expertise in biological science has never been of greater importance to mankind, and we're convinced that the future of biological science is in good hands," he said. "Inspired by the students' performances, we hope that more and more young people will take up the challenge of biological science."

Dennis Chae. Whhaazzaaa, I'm Dennis Chae. I love my Baltimore Ravens and shoes. In fact, I collect sneakers and am always looking for a new pair of Nikes. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is probably going to be the greatest thing ever in a year or so. I … More »

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