April 28, 2009 — (BRONX, NY) — A 24-year old research technician at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has won $100,000 on the syndicated game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Max Bernstein studies microscopic ground worms called nematodes in the lab of Scott W. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of genetics at Einstein.
Lab of Scott W. Emmons, Ph.D.During his two-episode run on ABC's "Millionaire," Bernstein blazed through a series of questions, including those on the primary country of origin for diamonds before the year 1720 (India), the web site for the National Numismatics Association (money.org), and the subject matter of the television program "Seinfeld" (nothing). He was ultimately stumped by a $250,000 question on art. Unsure which artist coined the word "mobile" to describe moving sculptures (Marcel Duchamp), the Hoboken resident decided not to answer the question and take the guaranteed $100,000 — which he had earned up to that point.
Bernstein joined Einstein in September 2007 after graduating from Cornell University with a B.S. in biology. As a research technician, he makes behavioral observations on nematodes, including mutants, to determine their fertility, and compiles data for analysis. Dr. Emmons' lab studies the nervous system, reproductive behavior, and sex-specific development of Ceanorhabditis elegans in order to investigate how genes specify different cell types, determine connections in the nervous system, control behavior, and evolve.
Although Bernstein applied to be a show contestant on a lark, the experience has opened up new opportunities: he plans to use part of his winnings towards graduate school; he expects to begin work towards an M.S. in biology next year. He will also help his girlfriend with her graduate school expenses and will give a portion of his winnings to charity.
Bernstein's two-episode appearance, which included spirited banter with "Millionaire" host Meredith Viera, was taped in October 2008 at the ABC studios in Manhattan and aired nationally on Friday, April 10 and Monday, April 13, 2009. A portion of his appearance can be seen on YouTube.