usa brain bee

2024 USA Brain Bee Championship Nurtures Neuroscience Enthusiasm Among Youth

The 2024 USA National Brain Bee Championship was held April 19-21 at the University of Central Florida, drawing together 54 local Brain Bee chapter winners from 32 states to vie for the national title. Harini Venkatesh, a 10th grader representing the Upper Valley Brain Bee in New Hampshire, emerged as the 2024 USA National Brain Bee champion, capturing not only the prestigious title but also a reward of $1,500. She now sets her sights on the global stage, as she prepares to represent the United States in the upcoming 2024 International Brain Bee competition this summer.

Securing the second place position this year is Rishi Suresh, a 12th grader representing the Arizona Brain Bee, who will be awarded $1,000 for his remarkable achievement. Anvi Jampani, an 11th grader representing the Michigan Brain Bee, came in third place and will receive $500 in recognition of her exceptional performance.

Left to right: USA Brain Bee co-Director Dr. Manuella Oliveira Yassa, 3rd place winner Anvi Jampani, 1st place winner Harini Venkatesh, 2nd place winner Rishi Suresh, Dr. Alicia Hawthorne, Dr. Stephen King.

Reflecting on her win, Harini shares, “I was excited - winning was something I hadn’t really expected at all, so that was probably the coolest moment of my life.” She extends gratitude to her family and mentors who supported her journey, “My family was a huge source of support for me, and I absolutely couldn't have done it without their help! In addition, I'm very grateful for Ms. Bien and Ms. Townsend, the coordinators of the Upper Valley Brain Bee, for all of their help this year with Nationals and Regionals. I'm also really grateful to Dr. Weaver for all of his help accessing resources to study with, and to Dr. Winter for helping me learn material for the practical portion of the exam; without their help I certainly could not have learned so much for the competition!”

2024 USA Brain Bee winner Harini with her mother Priya Venkatesh holding the USA Brain Bee trophy.

Founded in 1998, the USA Brain Bee is an international platform for teenage neuroscientist enthusiasts. Each year, high schoolers around the globe compete in local Brain Bee competitions. The winners of these local competitions in the US are invited to represent their local chapters at the national USA Brain Bee Championship, held annually in April. The national champions then proceed to compete in the International Brain Bee during the summer. Directed by Dr. Norbert Myslinski and Dr. Manuella Oliveira Yassa, the USA Brain Bee cultivates a passion for neuroscience among youth.

This year’s competition comprised a series of rigorous tests including a written exam, lab practicum, patient diagnosis, and a final oral round. Beyond the competitive aspects, participants also engaged in other activities including keynote lectures by University of Central Florida faculty Dr. Kiminobu Sugaya and Dr. Stephen King, a faculty panel about neuroscience education and the path to a neuroscience career, and sheep brain dissections. Parents and guardians were invited to attend many of the weekend’s sessions.

Reflecting on the event, Harini’s mother shares, “The lecture by the neuroscience department head at UCF about the 11-year FDA approval wait for a patient that passed away without getting what he waited for touched my heart.  The impromptu flow of knowledge that seamlessly poured from the brains of the professors that supervised the contest was incomprehensible and the thought of Harini aspiring to be one of those that would be able to help such a patient some day and talking on stage some day just like the ones that we saw yesterday is something we parents feel blessed and thankful for.”

Congratulations to the top 10 participants of the 2024 USA Brain Bee:

1st place: Harini Venkatesh - Upper Valley Brain Bee
2nd place: Rishi Suresh - Arizona Brain Bee
3rd place: Anvi Jampani - University of Michigan Brain Bee
4th place: Sophia Eowyn Hsu - James Madison University Brain Bee
5th place: Eric Du - Kansas City Brain Bee
6th place: Havisha Kalpatthi - Pittsburgh Brain Bee
7th place: Charles Solazzo - Rutgers Central New Jersey Brain Bee
8th place: Abhinav Gutha - Dallas Fortworth Brain Bee
9th place: Rebecca Ahn - Central Massachusetts Brain Bee
10th place: Eric Pan  - Houston Brain Bee

Top 10 participants with 2024 organizer Akhila Darmala, USA Brain Bee Co-Director Dr. Manuella Oliveira Yassa, Dr. Stephen King and Dr. Alicia Hawthorne.

“While the Brain Bee centers a competition, participation in the Brain Bee is about more than the test itself; it’s about nurturing the growth of budding scientists, providing them with meaningful experiences and support as they embark on their journey toward higher education and careers in neuroscience,” says Dr. Manuella Oliveira Yassa. “The most valuable part for me is to be able to welcome these students to the world of neuroscience and to see them connect with like-minded peers, college students, and faculty. They begin to build their neuroscience network and their constellation of mentors - the community that will inspire, guide, and support them on their path.”

Harini’s mother adds, “Participating in the USA Brain Bee has definitely shown Harini that she can achieve anything in life with a combination of effort, dedication, resilience, and persistence.”

This year’s competition was made possible thanks to the organizing team led by Akhila Darmala, Dr. Alicia Hawthorne, and the incredible UCF team. The event was sponsored by the University of Central Florida Student Government and Neuroscience Alliance in addition to Nemours Children’s Health and Plasticity Centers.

More information about the 2024 USA Brain Bee including the program listing all participants can be found at Follow the USA Brain Bee on Instagram at @usa.brainbee and contact Dr. Manuella Oliveira Yassa at or (949) 824-5193 for more information. Information about the International Brain Bee can be found at