Local high school students participate in Brain Day events at Creighton
Twenty-two high school students from Omaha-area schools visited Creighton February 18 as guests of the Department of Biology and the Neuroscience Program for the 2023 regional Brain Bee/Brain Day, the first step toward the international neuroscience competition for students from around the world.
Omaha Central High School’s Marcus Sherrod came in first place, moving on to the three-day national competition at the University of California, Irvine.
Creighton began its role as the only regional Brain Bee site in Nebraska in 2020. The University hosted its first competition in 2022 after COVID-19 caused the inaugural competition to be cancelled.
This year’s Brain Bee at Creighton gave student participants a chance to tour Creighton’s campus and to check out the research labs in biology, neuroscience, chemistry, physics, psychology and the medical school.
Creighton undergraduates from Nu Rho Psi (NRP), the neuroscience honors society, were once again an integral part of Brain Bee activities.
NRP members were tour guides and led the students through several neuroscience-related activities that included sheep brain dissection and lab activities that measured and observed complex motor learning and eye movements.
Neuroscience and biochemistry major Elyssa Pereyra (Class of ’24) was thrilled to see all of the NRP members’ hard work pay off. “Being part of this event for many of the members was much more than just a singular day,” she said. “For the past semester, we have dedicated time to coaching the students and working out logistics to make sure that we could put on the best event possible...Whether we inspired them to be neuroscientists or just got them excited about a sheep brain, seeing how the event affected them was something impactful.”
Brain Bee events at Creighton are overseen by faculty members Annemarie Shibata, BS, PhD, Professor of Cellular Neuroscience and Program Director of Neuroscience; and Gwendalyn King, PhD, Associate Professor of Cell and Molecular Neuroscience.
Dr. King shared “I know [high school] is a critical time to help people see the power and beauty of science to transform.” She continued, “I’ve experienced the ‘eye raise’ when you say you are a neuroscientist. There is a perception of it being particularly hard ... Encouraging interest, knowledge, and poking at the [future scientists] who aren’t going to scare easily about ‘hard’ is important and a lot of fun.”
As the members of NRP note, “It was a day of full neuro-geek immersion and a day to love all things brain related.”