Team Facts & News
The Olympiad is a nine-day international competition among pre-university students from more than 60 nations. — AAPT.ORG
Meet the Team
University HS - Irvine
Programming, reading, board and card games, listening to podcasts
Physics Club, Math Club, Orange County Math Circle, OC Coder
USAPhO (Semifinalist 2012-2015, Silver Medalist 2015), PUPC (2016), USACO (Platinum 2016), USAJMO (2013), USAMO (2015), Canada/USA Mathcamp (2015), ARML (5th team 2014, 3rd team 2015), Online Math Open (5th team 2015 Winter, 2016 Spring), Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Gold 2016)
My interest in physics started in elementary school, with the Science Channel. My favorite shows on TV back then were those documentaries on black holes, quantum mechanics, particle physics, etc.; shows like Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, or How the Universe Works. I loved learning about all of the weird, and sometimes counterintuitive, ways in which the world works.
I started taking physics classes outside of school in 7th grade. By then, I had already been studying for and taking math competitions for a couple years, and had found it very enjoyable. For the next few years, I devoted more and more time into math, physics, and eventually computer science. I had relative success in competitions, qualifying for physics Semifinals first in 7th grade, USAJMO in 8th, USAMO in 10th, and then USACO platinum this year.
But competitions have never been my primary goal in studying math or physics; instead, I simply want to learn more about them. I’m fascinated by the beauty and logical truth of math, the concreteness of physics, and the versatility of computer science. I love how all three challenge me mentally, using relatively simple starting concepts to build up to more and more complex systems. I especially enjoy trying to figure out totally new concepts, such as learning group theory at Mathcamp, or trying to self-study basic quantum mechanics for PUPC.
As my passion for math and physics grew, I got more involved with the community, joining my school’s math and physics clubs, as well as Orange County Math Circle. I soon fell in love with sharing my interests with others, through teaching math classes and helping organize math tournaments at OCMC, and through lecturing at my school’s clubs. I learned a lot, both in further solidifying my understanding of math and physics and in learning how to share my enthusiasm, and enjoyed giving back to the community that had brought me so far.
I recognize that I could not have gotten where I am today without the help and support of others. My parents have been extremely supportive throughout my whole life, encouraging and enabling me to pursue my interests and passions. Dr. James Li of Ardent Academy, who has been my mentor since 5th grade, first introduced me to physics, and has always given me good guidance and support. My teachers throughout elementary, middle, and high school have all been very supportive as well, especially Mr. Smay, my high school physics teacher. I’m excited and honored to have been chosen for the US Physics Team, and look forward to learning a lot at camp!
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