Thussentham Walter-Angelo remembers the question from a second-grade school report: What do you want to be when you grow up? His answer then was the same as today – a neurosurgeon.
“I was always interested in neuroscience,” the Cedar Cliff High School junior said. “There’s just so much to learn and not a lot that’s known. This competition is a great way to prove yourself.”
Walter-Angelo, who won the 2019 Central PA Regional Brain Bee sponsored by the Central PA Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, was one of 56 contestants at the 2019 USA National Brain Bee Championship April 12 to 14 at Penn State College of Medicine on the campus of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
The students, local winners from 36 states, competed in four rounds of competition that tested their neuroscience expertise.
Preparation for the event was intense, with some students reporting upward of 15 hours a week spent studying. The questions are based on information from the Society for Neuroscience Brain Facts book and other free online resources
Latavya Chintada, a contestant from Glendale, Arizona, said she was nervous about the competition, but spending time with others who are also fascinated by the mysteries of the brain solidified her desire to become a neurosurgeon. “I got to meet a lot of great students and faculty,” she said. “This event could inspire a lot of us to go in the field.”
That, in fact, is the purpose of the Brain Bee, which was founded in 1998 by Dr. Norbert Myslinski, a neuroscientist at University of Maryland, Baltimore. “We build better brains to fight brain disorders” is the motto of the international organization, which has more than 200 chapters in 50 countries.
This marks the first time the College of Medicine has hosted the national event, now in its 12th year.
“It’s a big honor to host the National Brain Bee,” said Kala Venkiteswaran, assistant professor of neurology and neural and behavioral sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and 2019 USA Brain Bee site coordinator. “More and more information is coming out about how the brain works, and it’s important for the younger generation to become engaged because we need all the brilliant minds we can get to treat brain diseases.”
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