Brain Bee Competition challenges high school students in neuroscience

From left to right: Dr. Thyagarajan Subramanian, SFN chapter president; Dr. Alistair Barber SFN chapter vice president and this year’s judge; first place winner Sareena Fayaz; second place winner Alan Balu; third place winner Siven Chinniah; and coordinator Dr. Kala Venkiteswaran. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The sixth annual Central PA Brain Bee Competition was held at Penn State College of Medicine on Saturday, Feb. 28. This neuroscience competition for high school students is intended to motivate young men and women to learn about the human brain, and inspire them to enter careers in the basic and clinical brain sciences. The event was coordinated by Dr. Kala Venkiteswaran on behalf of the Central PA Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (Central PA SfN) and Penn State Hershey Neuroscience Institute.

Students prepare for the competition by studying the book Brain Facts. Topics include brain functions like sensations, intelligence, emotions, movement and consciousness; brain dysfunctions like Alzheimer’s disease, autism and addictions; research techniques; and medical technology. The local competition format includes written questions about neuroanatomy laboratory tests and diagnosis of patient ailments “acted out” by medical and graduate students. A short on-site tutorial on brain anatomy and on the various disease states also was provided to all contestants.

This year’s winners are Sareena Fayaz, Hershey High School, first place; Alan Balu, Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware, second place; and Siven Chinniah, East Pennsboro Area School District, third place.

The competition was coordinated by student members of the Central PA SfN, guided by senior neuroscientists. This year’s team of doctoral students was led by Zeinab Nasralah and the team of medical students was led by Dr. Quynh Vo. Drs. Thyagarajan Subramanian and Alistair Barber served as judges for the competition and helped mentor the student teams to conduct the completion along with Venkiteswaran.

Dr. Norbert Myslinski founded the International Brain Bee in 1998. It has now grown to more than 150 chapters in more than 30 countries. Students advance through three tiers of competition from local to national and eventually to the International Championship. Approximately 30,000 students compete annually.

More information on future Central PA Brain Bee Competitions can be obtained by contacting Dr. Kala Venkiteswaran at

Last Updated April 09, 2015