Perth student proves brainiest of them all

2 Feb 2010

Uma Jha from Perth has been crowned the 2010 Australian Brain Bee Champion in a battle of neuroscience knowledge in Sydney.

The Shenton College student outsmarted more than 4,000 competitors from across Australia to take out the title.

In the national final she competed against seven other state winners in a brain teasing anatomy exam, doctor-patient diagnosis and a neuroscience quiz in front of a live audience.

“The competition was tired right up until the end and it was a really nerve-wracking finish. I didn’t know whether I was going to get there but it was definitely great to beat the others,” the 14-year-old said.

“I’ve never won a national science competition before, so it’s amazing.”

In the end, it was Uma’s ability to diagnose neurological disorders in patients that got her over the line.

The Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) is designed to test the best and brightest high school students, while also giving them unprecedented access to world-renowned neuroscience facilities and researchers.

However the hard work does not stop here for Uma. She will now travel to California for the International Brain Bee Challenge in August.

“I’ll have to keep studying hard – checking and rechecking the study material – because I really want to give the international competition my best shot,” she said.

ABBC national organiser and Queensland Brain Institute Professor Linda Richards said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Uma. She has shown that she has a special talent and passion for neuroscience and we’re very proud of her to be representing Australia at the international level."

The Australian runner-up was Andrew Li from James Ruse Agricultural High School in New South Wales.


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Notes to the Editor
The Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) is the country’s largest neuroscience competition for high school students. The competition is designed to test school students’ knowledge about a range of topics, including intelligence, memory, emotions, sleep, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. In 2010, more than 10,000 students are expected to take part nationally.

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) was established as a research institute of the University of Queensland in 2003. The Institute is now operating out of a new $63 million state-of-the-art facility and houses 26 Principal Investigators with strong international reputations. The QBI is one of the largest neuroscience institutes in the world dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function.