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UMass Medical School hosts 13th annual Central Massachusetts Brain Bee

Arlington Catholic High School’s Petra Dujmic wins competition for students interested in neuroscience

  Central Massachusetts Brain Bee winner Petra Dujmic is pictured with competition coordinators David Weaver, PhD, (left) and Sheldon Benjamin, MD.

Central Massachusetts Brain Bee winner Petra Dujmic is pictured with competition coordinators David Weaver, PhD, (left) and Sheldon Benjamin, MD. 

Arlington Catholic High School student Petra Dujmic took top honors at the 13th annual Central Massachusetts Brain Bee, held at UMass Medical School on Feb. 9. The 11th-grader bested 51 other students from 23 Massachusetts high schools to represent the region at the United States National Brain Bee in April.

Hosted by the UMMS Department of Psychiatry and the NeuroNexus Institute, the Brain Bee competition is designed to encourage students toward careers in the neurosciences.

At the Brain Bee, students took a written clinical neuroscience exam and interviewed patient actors to diagnose their neurological or psychiatric conditions. The 10 top scoring students then assembled in the front of the medical school’s Sherman Center Auditorium to answer oral neuroscience questions in “bee” style while their classmates, parents and science teachers looked on.

Master of Ceremonies Sheldon Benjamin, MD, interim chair and professor of psychiatry, and David Weaver, PhD, professor of neurobiology and executive director of the NeuroNexus Institute, presented the Andrew Sheridan Young Neuroscientist Award to Dujmic. Named in memory of the late Andrew Sheridan, a graduate of St. Mark’s School in Southborough who had a passion for the study of neuroscience, the award includes an all-expense paid trip sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry to compete in the national Brain Bee.

“I just wanted to thank Dr. Benjamin, Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan, and all 39 volunteers for continuously extending this exciting opportunity to high school students and enabling the Brain Bee to be one of the most educational, memorable and pleasurable events in our student careers,” said Dujmic. “Thanks to the Brain Bee, I have finally decided upon a future career in neuroscience, and I am super excited to continue learning about the brain for the National Bee in proud representation of Massachusetts.”

Parents, teachers and guests heard faculty presentations while the students took the written test. Introduced by event co-coordinator Max Rosen, MD, MPH, chair and professor of radiology, Katyucia De Macedo Rodrigues, MD, assistant professor of radiology, discussed recent advances in stroke treatment. Keynote speaker Elinor Karlsson, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine, described her research project “Citizen Science, Pet Dogs and the Complex Genetics of Behavior.”

The Central Massachusetts Brain Bee chapter is one of 50 local chapters nationwide that will be sending their winners to the USA Brain Bee, which will take place at Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania April 12 to 14. The winner will represent the United States at the International Brain Bee in Daegu, South Korea, this September.

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