It was a buzzworthy meeting of young minds at the Long Island Brain Bee, a regional high school science competition hosted for the first time at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine on Saturday, February 4, 2017. Competitors included 31 students, ages 14-18, from over 15 Nassau and Suffolk County high schools.
The last Brain Bee on Long Island was held in 2014 – Hofstra Northwell was pleased to revitalize the competition for area students.
Top prize went to Safia Mirza, a senior at Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, followed by second and third place finishers: Ankita Katukota of Comsewogue High School and Amy De Lury of Sachem North High School, both sophomores.
Mirza’s prize includes a trip to compete in the National Brain Bee on March 17-19 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). The winner of the U.S. finals will move on to the International Brain Bee Championship in Washington DC.
“Study of the brain is something I had never considered before this competition,” said Mirza, “I learned that the answer to a lot of diseases lies in the brain.”
The first leg of the Brain Bee is a local, one-day contest that takes place in various communities throughout the United States, including New York City and Westchester County. The goal is to expose young scholars to the study of the brain and motivate early career interest in the fields of neuroscience research and clinical sciences
The Long Island Brain Bee consists of three rounds of competition – a multiple-choice exam on brain facts, a laboratory demonstration, and a test to identify anatomical/functions structures in human brain specimens. Contestants also participated in a “charades” round in which they identified brain disorders, treatments, and diagnostic tools based on skits prepared by School of Medicine students. Preparation for the Brain Bee preparation requires study of Brain Facts, a primer on the brain and nervous system published by the Society for Neuroscience.
"Events like the Brain Bee are perfect opportunities to encourage students when they are most curious," said Zeinab Nassrallah, PhD, assistant professor of science education at Hofstra Northwell and Brain Bee co-coordinator along with Hofstra University associate professor of biology, Beverly Clendening, PhD.
“The earlier we spark their interest in neuroscience, the farther we can advance the field,” added Dr. Nassrallah.
In addition to medical students, assisting the day’s activities were Northwell Health researchers and residents in psychiatry. Drs. Nicholas Santangelo, PhD, and Elisabeth Ploran, PhD, both from Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Science, spoke to the students about neuroscience research. Maya Frankfurt, PhD, a professor of science education at Hofstra Northwell, served as Brain Bee judge.
“The students demonstrated an impressive knowledge of neuroscience,” said Dr. Frankfurt. “I’m looking forward to next year’s competition.”
Funding for the 2017 Long Island Brain Bee was generously provided by Northwell Health’s Neurosurgery Serviceline, as well as the Department of Neurology and Office of the Dean at the School of Medicine. For more information, please visit medicine.hofstra.edu.
About the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine
Established in 2008, the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine (formerly, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine) is the first allopathic medical school to open in New York State in more than 40 years. Hofstra University and Northwell Health are partners in the founding and operation of the School of Medicine, an institution built upon the strong clinical and graduate medical education programs of Northwell, as well as the robust research and academic programs of both Hofstra University and Northwell’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. In February 2015, the School of Medicine received full accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), an important national designation for meeting established standards in medical education, followed by a highly successful residency placement and graduation of the medical school’s charter class in May 2015. Currently, the School of Medicine is comprised of more than 2,400 faculty across 25 academic departments, and enrolls a diverse community of 400 students.