Mark US-bound for Chemistry Championships

Mark McCullough will compete in the World Chemistry Championships
Mark McCullough will compete in the World Chemistry Championships

A BANBRIDGE student is preparing for an Olympiad of a different kind when he takes on the rest of the world at the Chemistry Championships in America next month.

Eighteen-year-old Mark McCullough will travel to Washington DC along with a competitor from Derry after the two were chosen from around 100 students in Northern Ireland, and a host of entrants from the south to make up a team of four from across Ireland.

The former Banbridge Academy pupil will join some of the brightest brains around the globe to participate in various tests and experiments over a 10-day period.

Last week Mark spent some time in Queen’s University as part of his training for the event.

His father Paul said Mark’s achievements have made the family very proud.

“He has achieved a lot by getting to this stage,” said Paul, who works with Royal Mail in the town. “He wasn’t going to enter because there was a clash with the family holiday to Scotland - but now he’s getting to America so I think he’ll be alright!”

The International Chemistry Olympiad is in its 44th year and is making a return to the US for the first time since 1992. The competition will include analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and spectroscopy.

Asked if he thought the teen’s nerves might play a part during the competition, Paul said his son is “quite a cool character”.

“He is very academic and has enjoyed the challenges so far so I hope he enjoys his time in America too,” said the father-of-four. “The competition seems to be jam-packed with around 100 countries competing so he will get to meet lots of new people. It will definitely be an experience.”

Mark, who has just completed his A-Levels, currently has an offer to study Chemistry at Queen’s University but is also considering medicine as a future career.