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UNE gives teens early education in neuroscience at Southern Maine Brain Bee

Haley Lawlor, Bao Nguyen, Jacob Bilsky, Elizabeth Roy and Mike Burman
Haley Lawlor, UNE ’19, event coordinator, 1st place winner, Bao Nguyen, Thorton Academy; 2nd place winner, Jacob Bilsky, senior from Biddeford High School; third place winner Elizabeth Roy from Thornton Academy; and Mike Burman.

January 18, 2017

Twenty students from three neighboring school districts (Biddeford High School, Thornton Academy, and Kennebunk High School) participated in this year’s Southern Maine Brain Bee, held at the University of New England on December 6, 2016. This was the Center for Excellence in the Neuroscience’s (CEN) third year hosting the event.

Bao Nguyen of Thornton Academy won first place after a long, nail-biting round of sudden death questions against second place winner Jacob Bilsky from Biddeford High School and third place winner Elizabeth Roy of Thornton Academy.

Students who participated in the Brain Bee devoted time inside and outside the classroom to studying neuroscience. In addition to the competition itself, CEN coordinated extra activities for Brain Bee participants to further build upon their knowledge and enthusiasm for neuroscience. Activities included a tutorial of the human brain tissue, guided by a number of second year students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as sheep brain dissections, led by a number of undergraduate and graduate students.

“It was a rewarding opportunity to be able to coordinate this event under Dr. Burman,” said Haley Lawlor, UNE ’19, who helped to organize the event. “The atmosphere was beaming with inspiration and excitement. I send my biggest congratulations to not only Bao, but every student that decided to participate.” 

Michael Burman, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology and director of CEN’s K-12 Outreach Program, served as the master of ceremonies and faculty organizer.

The Southern Maine Brain Bee is held simultaneously and in collaboration with the Northern Maine Brain Bee at the University of Maine in Presque Isle and the Eastern Maine Brain Bee at the University of Maine in Machias. The winner of the event is eligible to participate in the National Brain Bee competition in March, which will lead up to the International Brain Bee Championship.

To learn more about the University of New England’s Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, visit

To apply, visit

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