Queenslander Jackson Huang, 16, has been named the International Brain Bee Champion after a neuroscience competition for young students, 13 to 19 years of age, which attracted entrants from around the world.

 Elisabeth Attwood caught up with Jackson Huang, our brain champion.

What school do you go to?

The Queensland Academy  for Science, Maths and Technology. I’m in year 11 studying for the International Baccalaureate. A psychology teacher at school put me forward for the Australian Brain Bee Challenge. I won that and got to go to Vienna in Austria for the International Brain Bee Championships.

How many countries took part?

There were 17. I was quite nervous. I took my mum with me.

How long did you study for the competition?

It was about 11 months, I tried to do an hour every day.

How did you prepare?

By reading books – we had to learn about all aspects of the human brain – about cells, the structure of the nervous system and the eye. We also had to learn about neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, stroke and epilepsy as well as about intelligence, memory and emotions.

How were you tested?

Oral tests, a written exam, a lab test and we had to diagnose a patient with a neurological disease after hearing about their symptoms. We also had a neurohistology test, which is looking at microscopic images of the brain and identifying parts of the nervous system.

What would you like to do when you finish school?

I’ve always been interested in science but I’d had no contact with neuroscience. This has shaped my career pathway and I am considering neuroscience as well as chemistry.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to thank my family, my teacher Miss Jessica Fenwick, Dr Lindy Jeffree for mentoring me and the national and international co ordinators of the competition.

The Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland is one of the world’s most respected research stations investigating the fundamental mechanisms that regulate brain function. The Australian Brain Bee Challenge is open to all schools, and is free to participate. Details at www.abbc.edu.au.