The 16th Annual United States National Brain Bee Championship was held April 21-23 at the University of California, Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. In first place, and advancing to represent the US in the International Brain Bee Championship is Srijan Velamuri, 12th grader from Philadelphia who aspires to become a neurologist or neurosurgeon. Srijan participated in the USA Brain Bee Championship after winning the Philadelphia Brain Bee. He plans to begin his undergraduate studies in neuroscience this fall at the Johns Hopkins University.
This year’s USA Brain Bee Championship was organized by a team led by USA Brain Bee Co-Director, Manuella Oliveira Yassa, who directs the Outreach and Education programs at the UC Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Doctoral students Rachael Hokenson and Winny Ning chaired the organizing committee of over 30 volunteers to make the 3-day event possible. Vermont and Florida Brain Bee chapter coordinators Lisa Bernardin and Sebastian Leon joined as volunteers for the event.
Founded in 1998 by Dr. Norbert Myslinski (University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Department of Neural and Pain Sciences in Baltimore), the Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition that aims to inspire adolescents ages 13-19 to learn about the brain and motivate them to pursue careers in neuroscience-related areas, with the goal of improving the human condition by treating disorders of the brain and nervous system. Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, the International Brain Bee now has over 250 chapters in more than 50 countries and 6 continents. Dr. Myslinski founded the Brain Bee to “build better brains to fight brain disorders”.
Winners from 40 local chapter competitions in 27 states participated in the 2023 USA National Brain Bee Championship, a 3-day event that featured four types of exams, two keynote lectures, a lab tour, a neuroethics debate, a cooperative hands-on neuroscience activity, UCI campus scavenger hunt, and opportunities to connect with UCI neuroscience students over lunch. Participants demonstrated their knowledge of a wide range of neuroscience topics through a written test, neuroanatomy/histology/imaging practicum, patient diagnosis assessment, and final oral test. Dr. Katherine Thompson-Peer, UCI Assistant Professor, presented a Keynote Lecture titled “Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Mechanisms of Neuron Regeneration After Injury, and Reflections on Career Decisions”. Following the lecture, Brain Bee participants toured her lab, where they had a backstage view of how neuroscientists can use the fruit fly to understand neuron regeneration. The second Keynote Lecture was presented by Dr. Oswald Steward, UCI Distinguished Professor and President of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Steward shared his path to neuroscience and his research on spinal cord injury and regeneration. Participants also met Dr. Edwin Monuki, Chair of the UCI School of Medicine Department of Pathology, who led an anatomy demonstration on a human brain specimen. The final round of the competition was judged by Drs. Norbert Myslinski and Michael Yassa.
The list of participants and complete 2023 USA Brain Bee Championship Program can be found below and at https://cnlm.uci.edu/2023-usa-brain-bee
The 2023 USA Brain Bee 2nd place winner was 11th grader Navneeth Murali, who represented the Northeast Pennsylvania Brain Bee. In 3rd place was 9th grader Sanjay Adireddi, who represented the St. Louis Brain Bee. Below are the top 10 winners in rank order.
- Srijan Velamuri – Philadelphia Brain Bee
- Navneeth Murali – NE PA Brain Bee
- Sanjay Adireddi – St. Louis Brain Bee
- Ivan Roberts – Central MA Brain Bee
- Vignesh Anand – DFW Brain Bee
- Sathwika Prasad – James Madison University Brain Bee
- Selina Lin – Central PA Brain Bee
- Thrisha Kalpatthi – Pittsburgh Brain Bee
- Rishi Parikh – Rutgers Central Newark Brain Bee
- Yuchen Luo – Indianapolis Brain Bee