St. Louis high school students compete, meet experts at Brain Bee

Brain Bee competitors participate in an optical neuron activity. (Courtesy photo)

Washington University in St. Louis welcomed 54 students from the St. Louis region Feb. 25 for the first in-person St. Louis Area Brain Bee since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Participants answered questions about the nervous system, brain structure, cognitive disorders and other topics in neuroscience.

Sanjay Adireddi of Ladue Horton Watkins High School won this year’s competition and will compete in the U.S. National Brain Bee April 21-23. He also has been awarded a summer research fellowship with Brain Bee organizer Erik Herzog, the Viktor Hamburger Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. 

“My true passion for science was ignited in the Science Olympiad event and I wanted to continue to learn more about neuroscience,” said Adireddi, who is considering a career in neuroscience research. “Preparing for a competition-style event while also learning cool things about neuroscience was definitely motivating.” 

Past St. Louis Area Brain Bee winner and current organizer Sriharsha Gonuguntla, a sophomore studying neuroscience in Arts & Sciences, said the Brain Bee is a great opportunity to meet experts in the field. About 30 Washington University students, researchers and faculty members volunteered for the event, writing and judging questions, leading neuroscience demonstrations and participating in panel discussions. 

Finalists Matthew Awad (second from left), Anthony Zhao and Sanjay Adireddi talk with organizers Sriharsha Gonuguntla and Erik Herzog (right). (Courtesy photo)

“As a St. Louisan, I know a lot of the competitors and it’s exciting to see their own interest and knowledge grow,” said Gonuguntla, who won the 2020 competition as a Marquette High School junior. 

In addition to Herzog and Gonuguntla, the St. Louis Area Brain Bee is organized by students Daleep Grewal, Jake Joseph and Arjun Nair with support from Synapse, the university’s neuroscience student group.  

St. Louis Area Brain Bee Top 10 finalists 

Sanjay Adireddi, Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Gaayathri Binoj, Parkway Central High School

Chinmay Kumar, Lindbergh High School

Ankush Vasireddy, Marquette High School

Anthony Zhao, Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Rebekah Blackmon, Alton High School

Elizabeth Blackmon, Alton High School

Abby Moriarty, St. Joseph Academy

Matthew Awad,  Ladue Horton Watkins High School

Diep Tran, Ladue Horton Watkins High School

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