Mind over matter

Ryan Bose-Roy took first place in the the 2018 New York City Regional Brain Bee earlier this month. He will represent the city at the National Brain Bee in Baltimore in March. Photo: Jacqueline Silberbush
Hunter High School student will represent NYC at National Brain Bee

For 15-year old Ryan Bose-Roy, the human brain has always been fascinating.

“To see how one area affects the other area ... and to see all these connections come together is really, really interesting,” said Bose-Roy, the recently crowned champion of the 2018 New York City Regional Brain Bee, an annual competition that puts high school students’ knowledge of neuroscience to the test.

Out of 40 competitors from 26 high schools from the five boroughs and Westchester County, Bose-Roy, a sophomore at Hunter College High School on the Upper East Side, came in first place at the Bee on February 3.

But Bose-Roy’s interest in neuroscience was present long before he started competing. A third-place winner in last year’s Bee, Bose-Roy attributes his initial interest in neuroscience to a visit to the Sackler lab at the Museum of Natural History when he was in third grade.

“I heard a lot of speakers talk about the brain and how it works and how it was divided and I thought that was really, really interesting,” Bose-Roy said. “I think as my understanding of the brain went greater, my interest also increased with it, so when I got the book to start studying, I kept getting more interested.”

The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an organization devoted to advancing research and education on brain science, hosts the now 16-year old competition to expose and encourage young minds to explore the latest developments in brain-related research.

“My hard work definitely paid off,” said Bose-Roy, who made flashcards with information and practice questions to help him learn each topic in depth. Albert Tan, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, won the second-place prize and Amalia Korniyenko, a sophomore at Leon M. Goldstein High School in Brooklyn, came in third.

The Great Hall at the City College of New York was the arena in which students competed for a $500 first place cash prize and an all-expenses paid trip to the next round of the competition at the USA National Brain Bee in Baltimore. Following his success, Bose-Roy, who lives in Murray Hill, will represent New York City at the National, which will be held during Brain Awareness Week (BAW ) in March.

“It is hoped that activities such as the Brain Bee will motivate students to learn more about the brain and inspire them to pursue careers in neuroscience,” said Kathleen Roina, director of the BAW Campaign at the Dana Foundation, in her opening remarks at the competition, as reported by the Foundation’s blog.

While Bose-Roy’s career plans are not solidified just yet, he is interested learning more about Alzheimer’s disease. When told his grandfather had died of the neurodegenerative disease a few years ago, Bose-Roy’s curiosity was piqued.

“There’s a lot that we don’t know,” Bose-Roy said. “I thought that was very, very interesting to sort of figure out the root cause of a disease - why these things happen.”

For the next month or so, Bose-Roy will be preparing for the National Brain Bee. But although he enjoys the thrill of competing, Bose-Roy sees a greater meaning in his studying for the Bee.

“Most importantly, what I like the most is to learn things,” he said.