28 September 2009

A student from the Gold Coast has placed second in a prestigious international competition testing high school students’ knowledge of neuroscience - the best ever result for an Australian participant.

Casey Linton, Somerset College (Gold Coast), beat the national winners from countries including Canada, New Zealand, Grenada, India, Romania and Uganda, in the International Brain Bee final held last month in Toronto, Canada.

Australian involvement in the International Brain Bee was the brain-child of UQ Associate Professor Linda Richards, with support from the University, Faculty of Science and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI).

Casey will undertake lab experience in the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at UQ’s St Lucia Campus this summer through a scholarship called the QBI transition award.

She will work in Dr Massimo Hilliard’s laboratory studying the nervous system of a tiny soil worm known as C. elegans.

While in Year 12, Casey worked on a QBI-based research project investigating the expression of nuclear factor one genes in stem cells within the adult hippocampus.

The Australia and New Zealand brain bee challenge competition is administered from QBI by Associate Professor Richards and ABBC national administrator, Mrs Rhonda Lyons.

“This is a highly significant achievement for Casey and the Australian Brain Bee Challenge program but also for Australian science,” Associate Professor Richards said.

“The event is our chance to showcase Australia’s brightest young students on the world stage. Through this win Casey has demonstrated Australian high school students can compete successfully in this arena.”

Casey said competing in the International Brain Bee Challenge was a fantastic experience.

She said the challenge was more exciting than nerve wracking and she was looking forward to her time at QBI this summer.

“I am interested in the brain because it is a big part of who we are as people,” she said.

Media: Dr Richards (07 3346 6355 or richards@uq.edu.au).