Newswise — Emily Ruan, a 9th grade high school student in Minneapolis, Minn. has added the title of 2013 U.S National Brain Bee Champion to her outstanding list of achievements in art, music, and social science.
In the neuroscience knowledge bee for youths, held March 2 and 3 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Ruan came in first place among 45 high school students who had previously won regional brain bees in 26 states. The competition involved orals, a neuroanatomy laboratory practical with real human brains, neurohistology study of tissues with microscopes, brain imaging identification, and patient diagnosis with nurse actors.
“I didn’t expect to win and was really surprised. In fact, the first day was very intimidating because people were showing up with giant anatomy books and stuff,” said Ruan, who attends Mounds View High School, near Minneapolis. Once the event began and students began mingling and talking at breaks, she was able to relax and enjoy both the brain bee competition and the trip to Baltimore with her mother, Amy. “It was so much fun and a good experience. I thought it would be super-intense and scary but it wasn’t,” said Ruan.
Challenges are nothing new to the bright 9th grader, who has diverse interests and a zest for learning. She runs cross country and likes to compete in the problem solving and teamwork of Science Olympiad. She is also the freshman representative on her school diversity council. She plays violin and has been a member of the prestigious Minnesota Youth Symphony since 3rd grade. And, her art works have won state and national awards.
Ruan will represent the United States in the International Championship to be held in conjunction with the convention of the World Neurology Congress in Vienna, Austria in September.
Norbert Myslinski, PhD, an associate professor of neurosciences at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, founded the International Brain Bee 14 years ago. “Its purpose is to motivate young students to learn about the brain and inspire them to seek careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences to help treat and cure diseases of the brain and nervous system,” said Myslinski.
Ruan’s completion will come from among high school students in the 150 Brain Bee Chapters in 30 countries on six continents. However, she will carry a special edge to Vienna that helped her win in Baltimore. After she won her regional bee on Feb. 6, Ruan received neuroanatomy lessons after school on human brain models and help dissecting a sheep brain by Janet Dubinsky, PhD, professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and an organizer of the regional brain bee, said Ruan. “I think I had a big advantage because of Dr. Dubinsky’s help.”
Asked if the brain bee experience might lead to a career, she replied, “I think it would be really cool to be a neuroscientist. And actually being a child psychologist would also be cool because you can keep up with all the develops in neuroscience.”
And would that be at the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s professional health and medical schools, she was asked. “Maybe. I really like the crab cakes there. They are the best.”