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BW students head to Texas to 'bowl' over competition in neuroscience challenge

With Yellow Jacket grit and aspiring glory to be named the "Brainiest Undergraduates in the World," four BW students are traveling to Texas to compete in the Brain Bowl.

graphic showing a trophy with brain and neurons

It is BW's inaugural entry into the head-to-head competition. Sponsored by the neuroscience graduate program of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, participation is by invitation only. BW is the first university outside of Texas to be invited.

The lively Jeopardy-like challenge includes four-person teams of undergraduate students answering questions on the topic of neuroscience - with categories spanning neuroanatomy, brain and behavior, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and drugs and the brain.

The team that gets the most points by accurately answering questions in the quickest time brings home the Brain Bowl trophy and bragging rights for one year as the "Brainiest Undergraduates in the World."

Competition but also a connection to an R1 School

Photo of Jake Mansell

Preparation for the mid-April competition is already underway as participants brain-up on their studies and strategize a plan for victory.

The BW neuroscience team, under the direction of neuroscience chair and associate professor Dr. Clare Mathes, consists of Bailey Hall '23, Jacob Mansell '23, John Shepherd '23 and Mallory Witt '23. Alternates include Mattie Flynn '23 and Becca DiScipio '25.

For Mansell, a neuroscience major from North Ridgeville, Ohio, the competition allows him to collaborate with a team on a shared goal of being the first non-Texas school to win the Brain Bowl.

"I think our team works very well together, and we are all very competitive," said Mansell, whose post-graduation plans include taking a gap year and working in research before applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs.

photo of Mallory Witt

Also hoping to bring back a win is Witt, a neuroscience major from Olmsted Falls, Ohio, who is looking forward to seeing a large university's neuroscience program.

"I am excited to network with people in the neuroscience realm. I am also excited to have a fun and quick whirlwind experience," remarked Witt.

Mathes believes the opportunity has outstanding potential for BW's neuroscience program. "I see our team as exceptionally bright, dedicated students who are great problem-solvers," she noted.

"They have every potential to win, but what I think matters most is the opportunity for them to see what an R1 research lab and graduate program look like and to show our neuroscience hosts why BW students would be great to have as graduate students," said Mathes.

Headshot of BW professor Dr. Clare Mathes

She went on to say that BW's program is special because it focuses on neuroscience as its own independent discipline. It provides students with a scaffolded and hands-on way to learn about the theories, research questions, techniques and knowledge gaps therein.

"Neuroscience's roots," explained Mathes, "are in psychology, biology and chemistry. But the study of the brain and behavior is unique in making the link for all three. It is a fascinating area of study with diverse career potential."

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