Ipswich teen aces neuroscience competition

Kelly Seager, Nicole McGrath, Markus Brits and Lexie Martin.

Four Ipswich students have proven themselves among the next generation of Queensland neuroscientists at the Brain Bee Challenge state finals.

Organised by the prestigious Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland, the Brain Bee Challenge is the nation’s premiere high school neuroscience competition.

It aims to motivate students to pursue careers in neuroscience.

Westside Christian College year 10 students Markus Brits, Nicole McGrath, Kelly Seager and Lexie Martin were among 137 students who competed in the state finals.

In a remarkable achievement, Markus, 15, finished third.

While most adults would struggle to define terms like dopamine or basal ganglia, Brain Bee contestants were well versed in a range of topics related to intelligence, memory, emotions, stress, ageing, sleep and Alzheimer’s disease.

Students were given university-level texts to study in preparation, including several published by The British Neuroscience Association.

As well as competing, finalists toured Queensland Brain Institute’s cutting-edge research facilities.

“One look at QBI and I knew this was the career path for me,” Markus said.

“Neuroscience is the science of the future. This competition helped me see that.”

Brain Bee Queensland coordinator Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen said there was every chance students who competed in the competition would go onto make significant contributions in the field of neuroscience.

“The state final brings together some of the brightest young minds we have in Queensland, who are exactly the ones we’ll be relying on to become the next generation of scientists,” he said.

Markus Brits placed third in the Brain Bee Challenge.

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