The International Brain Bee (IBB) is the one and only neuroscience competition for 14-18 year-old students around the world. Currently, about 50,000 students from more than 50 nations participate each year, with more than 600 neuroscientists involved in organising and judging. Back in July, I participated in the IBB as the English National Champion and spent 5 days with a wonderful group of 25 students in Copenhagen, Denmark. The program consisted of not only the competition which has five sections: a written exam, neurohistology, neuroanatomy, patient diagnosis, and a live Q&A session, but also a trip to a medical museum and entry into the FENS Forum of Neuroscience. Click here to learn more about the International Brain Bee
All of the students I met there were extremely bright. In this series I will be interviewing a couple of them who have kindly agreed to talk about their passion for neuroscience and hope to inspire you with their enthusiasm for the brain.
Jeremi Chabros, Poland National Brain Bee Champion
Can you tell us about your research?
I’m examining the influence of caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline on insects’ neurobiology. The emphasis is on behaviour, survival, and adenosine receptor expression. The subjects of my research are Red flour beetles (tribolium castaneum). The further aim of my study is to compare tribolium castaneum and drosophila melanogaster. So far, I have conducted a study that focuses on the effects of caffeine on both imago and larvae. The results differ significantly from those obtained from drosophilia. I found out that lower concentrations of caffeine in the medium (0.125mg per 1g of medium) stimulate the locomotor activity of both adults and their offspring. Also, the rate of hatching is greater. In other concentrations (0.50mg and 2.00mg per 1g of medium), caffeine had an inhibitory effect on both locomotor activity and hatching rate. In drosophila, the effect of caffeine is linear, thus this is a surprising discovery!
Why did you start it? What did you find challenging?
I started my research as a part of the thesis that is required to participate in the Polish Biology Olympiad. Amidst many of the problems I’ve encountered, the greatest was definitely finding a supervisor and a facility to conduct my studies. Young students are not welcomed at universities not at institutes. Fortunately I managed to find both my supervisor and my lab where I can proceed with my research which I am grateful for.
What advice would you give to other students who want to go into neuroscience?
It would be very simple: Go for it! I value this field of science mainly because of its diversity. Virtually everyone can find something interesting: from neurobiochemistry to artificial neural networks. Being familiar even with the most basic aspects of human psychology or physiology of the nervous system helps tremendously in understanding the world that surrounds us.
What is your dream?
My greatest dream is to get accepted into an excellent university and become a doctor in either neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, or anaesthesiology. Besides this dream, or rather objective, I want to become the finalist of the Polish Biology Olympiad (It’s going to be tough and really competitive) or to participate in the International Biology Olympiad if I’m lucky enough. Apart from academics, in personal life I would love to travel the world, visit my friends, and go to a Crystal Castles concert.
How was your experience at the Brain Bee?
It was definitely the best week in my entire life. I met so many great people with whom I still keep in touch. Becoming the Polish Brain Bee Champion increased my self-confidence. It was such a breakthrough in my life. Although I’m not content with my results at the World Championships, there are many other things that I am happy about: being first in the patient diagnosis section of the competition (it reassured my future career as a doctor), and more importantly all the life-long friends I have made.
What is your favourite word?