Niskayuna High School Sophomore Wins 2023 Albany Regional Brain Bee

Simran Utturkar, a tenth-grade student at Niskayuna High School, won the eighth annual Albany Regional Brain Bee, hosted by Albany Medical College’s Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics (DNET).

Utturkar was among 23 competitors from ten local schools to participate in this year’s Brain Bee, a neuroscience trivia competition for students aged 13 to 19 that’s similar in format to a traditional spelling bee.

As the regional winner, Utturkar qualifies to compete in the two-day 2023 USA National Brain Bee Championship, which will be held at The University of California, Irvine in late April.

Scheduled to be an in-person competition for the first time since 2020, the March 4 event was forced to pivot to a virtual format at the last minute because of a major snowstorm. During the competition, Utturkar even lost power and Internet access, but was able to finish using her phone.

In addition to offering students the opportunity to test their neuroscientific skills, the Albany Regional Brain Bee hosted two panels designed for aspiring neuroscientists.

Sarah McCallum, PhD, associate professor in DNET, and Rachael Herlihy, an MD/PhD student, discussed the prerequisites, strategies, and skills that can help students get into medical school and graduate school.

A second panel on neuroscience career paths featured neurosurgery resident Tessa Harland, MD, Damian Shin, PhD, associate professor and interim chair of DNET, and Katherine O’Connor, PhD, CNIM, a former graduate student in Dr. Shin’s lab.

The ninth annual Albany Regional Brain Bee will be held at Albany Medical College in early March 2024.