Indianapolis Brain Bee winner thrives at national competition

Release Date: 
Apr 8 2015

After a victory at the fifth annual Indianapolis Brain Bee hosted by the School of Science in December, Michaela Breach placed second in the national competition.

The Eighth USA National Brain Bee Championship, a neuroscience competition for high school students, was held at the University of Maryland Medical and Dental Schools in Baltimore on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, 2015.

Michaela Breach
Michaela Breach (center), with her parents, placed second in the USA National Brain Bee Championship.

Winners from 52 regional competitions in 28 states tested their knowledge of the human brain at the national level, where topics included intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensations, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research.

The national competition also involved a neuroanatomy laboratory practical exam with real human brains, patient diagnosis tests with patient actors, exams using microscopes, brain imaging identification and written and oral examinations.

Serving as the only Indiana representative in this year’s National Brain Bee, Breach, a senior at Fishers High School in Fishers, Ind., felt motivated to succeed. As the winner of the Indianapolis Brain Bee, Michaela’s knowledge of the human brain was already extensive, but she knew she had to up her game to compete at the national level.

To prepare, she spent three months studying with the help of lots of coffee and IUPUI’s psychology and neuroscience faculty members Beth Neal-Beliveau and Charles Goodlett. Breach says guidance from School of Science faculty was integral to her success in the competition.

“I created my own study guides and tests and quizzed myself,” she said. “Dr. Beth also met me almost every Sunday at Starbucks to quiz me. Aside from that, I would meet with Dr. Beth and Dr. Goodlett every Tuesday to go over information and prepare.”

Breach placed second in the national competition, receiving a trophy and a $1,000 prize.

“Hard work and determination really paid off for Michaela,” Neal-Beliveau said. “We are proud to host the Indianapolis Brain Bee each year as it gives us an opportunity to meet top students—like Michaela— and introduce them to our psychology and neuroscience programs.”

Breach says it was taking AP Psychology her junior year of high school that first sparked her interest in the human brain and neuroscience: “I fell in love with the idea that I could work in a field that analyzes the mind and brain.”

Breach plans to study psychology and neuroscience next year at college. She says the way these branches of science allow her to understand real-world applications from multiple different angles will be something she’s always interested in.