Academics Students

Junior Wins 2018 USA Brain Bee, Heads to International Competition

Akhil Kondepudi takes a photo holding his trophy with his mother.

Akhil Kondepudi, a junior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, won the 2018 USA Brain Bee Championship, a neuroscience competition held at the University of Maryland, from March 16 – 18.

This summer, Akhil will represent the U.S. at the World Brain Bee Championship held in Berlin, Germany, from July 7 – 11 and hosted by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies.

In the national competition, the winners from 54 chapter events in 34 states tested their knowledge of the human brain by covering topics such as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensations, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research. The competition involves a neuroanatomy laboratory practical exam with real human brains, patient diagnosis with actors, neurohistology with microscopes, brain MRI imaging identification and orals.

To reach the national competition and subsequently, the World Brain Bee, a competitor must first win their regional event. Last year, Akhil took second place in the regional St. Louis Area Brain Bee. With the goal of earning first place in his sights, he began training for this year’s event by reading Brain Facts, a book provided by the Society of Neuroscience. He also delved into textbooks to build upon his knowledge.

His hard work paid off. Akhil won the regional St. Louis Area Brain Bee at Washington University when he was asked, “Sonic hedgehog is important for the development of what part of the nervous system?” and correctly answered “spinal cord.”

For his wins, Akhil earned an eight-week summer research fellowship at a Washington University neuroscience laboratory.

Currently, 53 nations coordinate Brain Bee programs, with about 50,000 students participating each year.