Local teen earns berth in national Brain Bee

Courtesy of Jaydev Bhateja
Jaydev Bhateja of Los Altos Hills, center, placed 22nd at the national Brain Bee competition March 18 in Maryland.

While Jaydev Bhateja was disappointed not to win the Brain Bee national neuroscience competition, the high school junior won’t let it deter him from his ultimate goal.

“I would like to pursue neuroscience in the research or the clinical field,” said the Los Altos Hills resident, who placed 22nd out of 54 competitors at the Brain Bee in mid-March. “I really like asking questions, and neuroscience is the place that has the most questions to answer. Neuroscience is the field that needs the most exploration.”

Bhateja, who attends BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, added that his interest in neuroscience was sparked well before he began high school.

“At the age of 12, I went to India and a family member who was a neurosurgeon let me watch a brain surgery,” he said. “From that point on, I’ve been really interested in it.”

Bhateja’s interest in neuroscience only heightened at BASIS, a private school in San Jose, where he’s been able to take advanced science classes.

“The biology department is absolutely amazing,” he said. “They are very fostering of interests in just about any branch of biology.”

As a sophomore, Bhateja joined the Neuroscience Club at BASIS, where he was introduced to Brain Bee. He competed in the Bay Area regional contest that year but did not earn a bid to nationals.

With a renewed commitment to move on to the next level, Bhateja said he studied extensively for this year’s regional competition, held in January. The competition focused on a book on neuroscience, “Brain Facts.” Competitors were quizzed on minute details of the textbook.

Bhateja placed first in the regional competition in Hayward, landing a spot in the national competition, held March 16-18 in Maryland. The event featured 54 regional champs from throughout the nation, all vying for the lone berth in the international Brain Bee.

Bhateja said the material at the national Brain Bee was more difficult than what he experienced at the regional competition.

“At nationals, they ask you to know about histology, anatomy – you need to know what part of the brain is shown in the MRI, and there’s a patient diagnosis section,” he said.

Not only was the material more challenging, but the stakes were raised as well. Once an individual competes at nationals, he or she is not allowed to participate in future national Brain Bees.

“Going to nationals is a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Bhateja said.

Bhateja is still free to enter next year’s regional competition, but he doesn’t plan to do so. He said he’s setting his sights on other biology fairs and contests to further foster his growing interest in neuroscience.

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