Using 100% of the Brain: GNS Student Wins the Long Island Brain Bee

Richard Zhuang

This year, sophomore Erin Wong won the fifth-annual Long Island Brain Bee, which was hosted by the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra and Northwell, and thus qualified for the National Brain Bee at the University of California Irvine from April 21-23. Wong is the first student from Great Neck South to win the Long Island Brain Bee and qualify for the national competition.

The National Brain Bee is a competition that promotes the study of neuroscience and brain research. “I first found out about Brain Bee because of my interest in neuroscience and biology in general,” Wong said. “I simply searched for neuroscience competitions, and it came up. I then did some research into the local competition at Hofstra and realized that just by participating, I would gain a lot of experience and hopefully have some fun while studying for it.”

The competition has multiple rounds that test facts about neuroscience and the brain, such as brain anatomy, neurochemistry, and neurological disorders. In addition to answering written multiple choice questions, participants also took a lab test and answered questions based on a lab tour demonstration. “My favorite part was the lab tour, by far,” Wong remarked. “I was able to hold the human brain for the first time and listen in awe to neuroscientists and medical students teaching about all aspects of the nervous system, from the blood supply of the brain to the spinal cord.”

After winning the regional competition, Wong traveled to University of California Irvine to participate in the national competition in April, which was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” for her. “I was able to meet people from all over the nation and connect with so many prominent neuroscientists. Although it was a highly competitive competition for a singular spot representing the U.S.A. in the International Brain Bee, everyone was very supportive of one another. I will never forget the experiences I made in those three short days,” Wong said. Irvine, a top school for neuroscience research, was also a perfect place for Wong to explore more about the brain: “I got a glimpse of cutting-edge research and all the latest technologies involved in such research.” 

In the future, Wong is very interested in pursuing a neuroscience career, whether in academia or as a neurosurgeon. “Preparing for this competition in many ways made me even more interested in working in neuroscience. There’s something about the way our brains work that just excites me and draws me in, whether it’s discovering more about how memory works or discovering more about neurodegenerative diseases that plague the population.”