We are pleased to announce our Design a Brain Experiment 2014 winners: First place goes to Gopika Hari, a junior from Cupertino High School, and second place to Nicole Werpachowski, a senior from BARD High School Early College Queens. While they hail from opposite coasts, Gopika from California and Nicole from New York, both share a passion for neuroscience, which was further encouraged by a high school course in psychology.
Gopika’s proposal focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, specifically, “To test the effect of inhibition of the Aβ42 of β-amyloid in mice induced with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) as a lens to examine the disease as a whole.” Nicole’s experiment design targets proliferative diabetic retinopathy, “[T]o find genes specific to retinal development in a diabetic retina with and without retinopathy that may play a role in proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and its progression.” Neither experiment was completed; the contest only calls on students to envision the experiment, encouraging creative ideas and hypotheses.
Both girls intend to continue to study neuroscience. Gopika is particularly interested in the plasticity of the brain and the biological basis of neurological disorders, and wants to do research in neuroscience and cell biology. Nicole has always been fascinated by human behavior and interaction and plans to major in psychology or neuroscience on the pre-med track in college, while also pursuing undergraduate research.
–Ann L. Whitman