This year, for the first time, the FENS Forum hosted International Brain Bee, a neuroscience competition for high school students. And for the first time, the competition was won by a European. Sixteen-year-old Ana Ghenciulescu from Bucharest, Romania, explains here what that honour has meant to her.
How did you learn about Brain Bee and what was your experience in taking part?
I randomly found an article in the national press about a Romanian girl who came third in the competition last year and that inspired me to look further into this opportunity, as neuroscience was a subject I already found appealing. I could only prepare for the international phase for about one month, because school work and finals interfered.
I would re-live the experience all over again anytime, if that were possible.
When did you become interested in neuroscience?
As a child. Quite unusually, my interest in neuroscience is rooted in a fascination for human psychology and its quirks that I developed by having read crime and detective novels ever since I was a small. I slowly started feeling the need for more scientifically rigorous explanations for the workings and misworkings of the mind. Delving deeper and deeper into the subject brought me to neuroscience.
Have you also taken part in other international competitions for high school students?
Up until Brain Bee, I had only participated in national competitions.
What are your favourite subjects to study at school?
Maths, biology and chemistry are my absolute favourites, but I'm also drawn to history, philosophy and foreign languages. Unfortunately neuroscience is not an individual subject.
What are your plans for the future?
I'm planning on applying for medical school. Later on, a career that combines clinical practice - I would definitely like to specialize in neurology – and neuroscience-related research would be ideal.
What is most interesting for you about neuroscience?
The fact that it intrinsically implies a paradox: the human mind trying to comprehend itself.
What are your hobbies?
Volunteering, reading and going to concerts.
Do you have any comments about the last Brain Bee competition?
It was wonderfully organized and I'm sure that, overall, it was both a challenging and a truly inspirational experience for everybody involved. I would love for this competition to reach even greater proportions in the future and include students from even more countries from all over the world.
What did you learn during the competition?
That one must always aim higher and higher and never settle for less than one is humanly capable of. Also, that multiculturalism is one of the most exciting things about science: interacting with people from so many different cultural backgrounds, but brought together by a shared passion, was an eye-opening experience.
The questions were posed by Elzbieta Pyza.
International Brain Bee competition: www.thebrainbee.org