Upfront

Can you identify the semaphorin, ephrin, neuropilin and plexin molecules? Ritika Chokhani can, and that’s what led her to victory in the 12th annual International Brain Bee Competition, which was held in conjunction with APA’s 2010 Annual Convention in San Diego.

Sponsored by APA, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the Nimmagadda Foundation in India, the Brain Bee seeks to motivate young men and women to study the brain and to inspire them to consider careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences.

Chokhani had stiff competition — seven other high school students, including South Korea’s Kyeong-Yeon Lee, Italy’s Klajki Zeneja, Canada’s Linda Zhu, the United States’ Yvette Leung, Grenada’s Mahbubani Paven Sean, Australia’s Uma Jha and New Zealand’s Kate Burgess qualified for the competition by winning regional bees.

During the daylong competition, the students “diagnosed” psychological disorders among doctoral students posing as patients, identified parts of the human brain, answered questions about psychology history and used microscopes to identify cell cultures of neurons.

Chokhani’s first place prize includes a traveling trophy, $3,000 and a summer fellowship. Burgess won the $2,000 second place prize, and Leung received third place and $1,000.

“The students brought tremendous energy to the convention, and we hope they left with a greater appreciation for psychological science,” says Steve Breckler, PhD, the executive director of APA’s Science Directorate.

—J. Clark