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From 1986 to 2016, the United States Teams have brought home: 58 Gold Medals, 41 Silver Medals, 29 Bronze Medals, and 11 Honorable Mentions. — AAPT.ORG

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Meet the Team

Photo of Pranav Murugan

Pranav Murugan

Denton, TX

Texas Academy of Math and Science

Grade: Junior


Powerlifting, chess, football, tae kwon do


Mu Alpha Theta (executive), Chess club, Research Organization, Science Bowl


USAPhO medalist (gold 2017, silver 2016), USNCO semifinalist (2016, 2017), AIME qualifier (2013-2017), TXSEF finalist (2013, 2017), FWRSEF 2nd place (2017), SEFH 3rd place (2015), SEFH 2nd place (2013)


I remember being fascinated in elementary and middle school with how the math I learned tied so easily to the physical world around us. That a quadratic equation can easily model projectile motion, and that conic sections arose naturally as a result of gravitational interactions astounded me and gave weight to the numbers and concepts I worked with. I am always eager to find this deep relationship between the math and physics, the abstract and concrete, even as I study further in my high school years. It was an incredible moment when I realized the power differential equations held in the natural world.

As a fan of chess, I really like Nobel laureate Richard Feynman’s metaphor for man’s quest to understand the world around him. He likened it to being able to observe one section of a chessboard, and over the course of thousands of games, slowly learning the rules of the game itself. Through math, we slowly learn the language of the natural world; all that’s left for us now is to listen.

I first took physics in my freshman year of high school, and soon grew eager to learn as much as I could about this new subject. Every new equation I discovered only heightened my love for this field. I am excited to attend the US Physics Olympiad training camp and to meet others who share the same passion I do.

My interests in physics bleed over into chemistry and engineering as well; even though nuclear- and thermochemistry have the greatest similarity to concepts in physics, I have always had a spot in my heart for organic chemistry. Something about the immense variety of compounds with unique behaviors that arise from such simple building blocks fascinates me. Even here, I can see the connections to physics; solutions of certain compounds can polarize incoming light, and just a simple geometric change to the structure can flip the direction of polarization. Who knew carbon had that kind of versatility? One thing I must concede, however, is that physics labs are orders of magnitude nicer than organic chemistry labs (why does everything evaporate so quickly?).

I would like to thank Mrs. Lorfing for introducing me to the subject of physics in school and for giving me the foundation to begin my quest for learning. I would also like to thank my parents for helping me throughout my physics journey over the years, and my sister for not distracting me too much when I was studying. A final shout out goes to all my friends who have pushed me to excel at everything I do (including watching Netflix, as my Parks & Rec and House watch times reveal) and made me the person I am today.

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