Australian High School Student Wins Top International Science Prize

5 Nov 2012

Teresa Tang from Brisbane State High School in Queensland has won the International Brain Bee Competition (IBB) held in Cape Town, South Africa this week.

Teresa represented Australia in the final event against competitors from 15 other countries which included Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, USA and Wales.

The Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition for high school students and was held in conjunction with the International Congress of Psychology.

Worldwide there are about 150 local competitions, each one involving many schools. In Australia Teresa, competed against around 5000 year 10 students nationally to ultimately become Australian champion and to represent Australia in the International Championship.

Professor Linda Richards of the Queensland Brain Institute began the Australian Brain Bee Challenge in 2006 and it quickly went nation-wide.

“Although Australian’s have placed a number of times this is the first time we have taken out the top honours," Professor Richards said.

"It's incredibly exciting and wonderful for Teresa who worked hard to meet the challenges presented. We are all so proud of her!”

In both the Australian and International competitions Teresa was tested on her knowledge of the human brain including such topics as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research.

Teresa prepared for the competition by studying neuroscience-specific books downloaded from the Internet.

The competition involved oral tests, a neuroanatomy laboratory exam with human brains, a neurohistology test with tissue specimens and microscopes, and a patient diagnosis component with student actors.

Sample questions include: What kind of molecules are semaphorin, ephrin, neuropilin and plexin? Sonic hedgehog is important for the development of what part of the nervous system? What is the medical term for when you start dreaming before you fall asleep? Stargazer mice are experimental models for which type of epilepsy? Teresa’s prize pack includes $3000, and a trophy.

The International Brain Bee was created to motivate students to learn about the human brain, and to inspire students to enter careers as clinicians and researchers to treat and find cures for neurological and psychological disorders.

Major sponsors for the Australian Brain Bee Challenge are The Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, AD Instruments, Carl Zeiss PTY LTD Australasia and the Australian Neuroscience Society.

The Australian Brain Bee Challenge opens in October for entries for students wishing to become the 2013 Brain Bee Champion. Registration is free and teachers may nominate one student through to their whole Year 10 class.

For more information or to register visit