Communications & Public Affairs
Matawan Regional High School Sophomore Adam Elliott Wins USA National Brain Bee
Win Follows First-Place Finish in Central New Jersey Brain Bee Competition at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Matawan-Aberdeen, NJ – A love for baseball took a backseat to a fascination with neuroscience this month, when Adam Elliott, a tenth-grade student at Matawan Regional High School, chose to skip a high school baseball tournament to compete instead in the 2014 USA National Brain Bee at the University of Maryland. His decision earned him the title of Champion, as well as a scholarship, as he defeated 47 other high school students who had won regional competitions held across the United States earlier in the year. Adam will represent the United States at the Fifteenth International Brain Bee Championship in Washington, D.C., this August.
“Participating in the Brain Bee has been an extraordinary experience. I enjoyed meeting all of the different, great, scientific high school minds from around the country,” Adam said, explaining that he plans to study neuroscience in college and believes that brain disorders are the most fascinating aspect of the discipline. “It’s amazing to me how one small change in an enzyme, such as in ALS, can have such catastrophic consequences. I would like to learn more about how the different layers of the cortex interact with each other and how it differs according to cytoarchitecture.”
Adam credited his teacher, Paul Servidio, MD, with encouraging his participation in the Brain Bee. “Dr. Servidio has been the most influential, and I would like to thank him for supporting me on this journey,” said Adam.
A teacher of anatomy and physiology to students in ninth through twelfth grade at Matawan Regional High School, Dr. Servidio also oversees the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Academy at the school, helping students learn about the biomedical sciences.
“Adam prepared for the regional competition as part of the academy class, which becomes a competition in itself as the students who attend the regional Brain Bee need to qualify,” explained Servidio. The high school sent 10 students to the regional competition hosted by the department of neuroscience and cell biology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in February. Expanding on Adam’s, and his, fascination with the intricate nature of the brain’s anatomy, Servidio, who holds a medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, helped Adam prepare for the national competition by reviewing brain dissections and other topics recommended by the national organizers.
“Adam was meticulous in his preparation. He analyzed, investigated and then questioned the conclusions,” added Servidio.
During multiple study sessions, they worked with Michael Matise, PhD, associate professor and coordinator for the Central New Jersey Regional Brain Bee, and other faculty members in the department of neuroscience and cell biology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, including assistant professors Mladen-Roko Rasin, MD, PhD, and David Crockett, PhD; and instructor Geoffrey McAuliffe, PhD.
“I would especially like to thank the professors in neuroscience and cell biology, particularly Dr. Matise, as well as Dr. Rasin, Dr. Crockett and Dr. McAuliffe,” said Adam.
“We are all delighted and very proud of Adam’s success,” said Dr. Matise. “We look forward to Adam providing us with a first-hand account of his experience at the national competition, and helping him prepare to compete in the International Brain Bee in August.”
That preparation will be put on hold temporarily as Adam returns to the baseball diamond full time during the spring. “My outside interests are absolutely consumed by baseball,” he said. In addition to baseball, and the intense studying that awaits him in preparation for the international competition, Adam’s summer will be occupied by an internship in a neuroscience laboratory that also was awarded to him as part of the national championship.
The International Brain Bee will be hosted by the American Psychological Association at the Washington, D.C, Convention Center, from August 7 to 10. Adam will be competing against other national champions from countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand, Romania, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and others.
Note: A high-resolution photo is available upon request.