Elwin Raj, a student of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Seri Bintang Utara, Kuala Lumpur, did Malaysia proud when he secured third place in the International Brain Bee Championship (IBBC) 2017. Pix by Elwin Raj via Harian Metro

KUALA LUMPUR: Elwin Raj, a student of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Seri Bintang Utara, Kuala Lumpur, did Malaysia proud when he secured third place in the International Brain Bee Championship (IBBC) 2017, which ended in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

Elwin, who was the champion of the national-level Neuroscience Competition, ‘Malaysia Brain Bee Challenge' (MBBC) 2017, last July, was the country’s sole representative, joining 24 other champions from their respective countries for the five-day competition which ran from August 2 to 6, Harian Metro reported.

Elwin, speaking to the press from Washington, said he did not expect to make the cut to the top three after being initially announced as the top five, midway throughout the competition.

“To be honest, I didn’t set any targets. I was just motivated to help Malaysia be placed as among the nations which is also developed in the field of neuroscience.

“I also wanted to learn from other contestants and gain experience, as well as explore possible career opportunities in this field for the future.

“The other competitors provided a very stiff challenge, as they are also champions in their respective countries,” he said.

The third place win means Elwin brings home US$1,000 (RM4,281), an opportunity to undergo industrial training in the field of neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, a trophy, a plaque and certificate.

The first and second spots went to Sojas Wagle, 15, from Arkansas, and Milena Malcharek from Poland, respectively.

Elaborating further, Elwin, who is the youngest of three, said he was grateful to god and both his parents, K Kunavathi, 57 and Paul Raj, 65, who worked tirelessly to encourage him to participate in the IBBC and MBBC.

"My deepest gratitude also to the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Neuroscience Research Centre director Prof Datuk Dr Jafri Malin Abdullah, as well as USM medical lecturer and MBBC 2017 project leader, Prof Madya Dr Muzaimi Mustapha.

“I am also thankful to my mentors who helped me prepare for this competition, teachers, friends, parent-teacher association and family members who prayed for my success,” he said.

IBBC 2017, organised by the American Psychology Association (APA), is geared towards motivating students aged between 13 to 19 to study the brain, and inspire them towards a career in basic and clinical neuroscience.

Students are tested on knowledge of the human brain, covering subjects such as activity, emotion, memory, sleep, sight, hearing, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addiction and brain research.

The competition involved oral tests, neuroanatomy laboratory examinations using actual human brains, neurohistologi examinations, and component diagnosis of patients.

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