On February 14, 2009, Floh Thiels, assistant professor of neurobiology, graduate students Erin Zimmerman and Merissa Remus, and Rachel Aliotta of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Club, hosted the 2009 Pittsburgh Brain Bee, a contest for high school students on their knowledge of the brain. The event was held on the 14th floor of Thomas E. Starzl Biomedical Science Tower and included twelve 11th- and 12th-graders from five Pittsburgh area high schools: Norwin, Hempfield Area, Chartiers-Houston, North Allegheny, and Pine-Richland.
The winning school team was from North Allegheny High School, and the individual winner was Ryan Nussbaum from Pine-Richland High School. As winner of the 2009 Pittsburgh Brain Bee, Ryan received a trophy as well as prize money to help defray costs associated with his representation of Pittsburgh at the 2009 National Brain Bee, which was held at the University of Maryland-Baltimore in March of 2009. Two of this year’s Pittsburgh Brain Bee contestants, Ryan being one of them, will be freshmen at the University of Pittsburgh this coming fall, and they both are considering majoring in neuroscience. The Pittsburgh Brain Bee is an annual event.