What is the “Vermont Brain Bee”?

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The Vermont Brain Bee is a competition for high school students who are interested in neuroscience and the functioning of the brain. These students can demonstrate their knowledge at the annual Vermont Regional Brain Bee at the University of Vermont in February of each year. The winner goes on to the National Brain Bee in Baltimore, MD in March during Brain Awareness Week. The NBB winner will be eligible to attend the International Brain Bee (www.internationalbrainbee.com)

Get excited about our regional brain bee, see below:

“The :30” on WCAX this past February 1st,  featured a live interview with guests Lisa Bernardin, VT Brain Bee coordinator, and Evan Trus, a Champlain Valley Union High School junior and two-time VT Brain Bee participant:  http://www.wcax.com/story/20937560/vermont-brain-bee.

WCAX-TV’s February 9th evening news included a piece about this year’s Brain Bee:  http://www.uvm.edu/~nbhspire/2013.02.09_BRAIN_BEE.wmv

History

A traumatic brain injury incurred 29 years ago  and has piqued Middlebury, VT resident Lisa Bernardin’s fascination with the brain. “I feel fortunate to be alive and functioning with my brain intact,” says Bernardin, who initiated the concept of a Vermont Brain Bee after reading about the 2009 International Brain Bee winner in the Brain Injury Association of America’s quarterly magazine “THE Challenge”. The international brain bee website had the requirements listed for having a regional brain bee.  The first step was finding students from three different VT high schools.   Lisa has been a school speech-language pathologist for many years and is familiar with the VT school system.  So, the more important step was to find a neuroscientist who could judge the competition.  She contacted the neuroscience department at UVM and was put in touch with the Vermont Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience outreach coordinator Rachael Hannah, a doctoral candidate in UVM’s Neuroscience Graduate Program, and the event became a reality.

Committee

For the years 2010 and 2011, the Vermont Brain Bee was developed and run by Diane Jaworski, Ph.D., UVM associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, and coordinated by Middlebury brain injury survivor Lisa Bernardin, with support from Holly Stradecki, UVM research technician in anatomy and neurobiology, Rae Nishi, Ph.D., UVM professor of anatomy and neurobiology and director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and Anthony Morielli, Ph.D., UVM associate professor of pharmacology and current president of the Vermont Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, Mark Stefani, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Middlebury College,   Sharon Leach, Ph.D., clinical neuropsychologist and licensed psychologist at the Stern Center for Language and Learning.

VBBCommitteePhoto2014

2014 VBB Committee Members from Left to Right: Sharon Leach, PhD, George Wellman, PhD, John Green, PhD, Eugene Delay, PhD, Rae Nishi, PhD, and Lisa Bernardin

In 2012, Rae Nishi took over the helm for producing a wonderful 3rd Annual Vermont Regional Brain Bee on February 11, 2012.  On June 4th, 2012, in attendance for the Spring Planning Committee Meeting for the 4th VBB were Rae Nishi, Lisa Bernardin, Mark Stefani, Sharon Leach, George Wellman, PhD, UVM Associate professor of pharmacology and current President of the VT Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, and John Green, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology at UVM.

For preparation of the 4th,2013 VBB the VBB Committee brought on a change with a stepping down of Dr. Mark Stefani and a new face with Gene Delay, Ph.D, Associate professor of biology and director of the UVM Undergraduate Program.  An exciting event minus the challenge of a foot of snow the day before took place on February 9th where 30 students from eight schools participated.  Photos can be found under the 2013 VBB with a photo of the winner, Nora Enright.

The 5th Annual Vermont Regional Brain was the best yet although illness and a conflict with other worthy events, reduced the number of participants to 20 from eight high schools.  Colchester and Essex High Schools added some new faces too.  

Please view the 2014 photos and summary.  It was a very exciting day!

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